22 SES 03 A, Teaching, Learning and Assessment in Higher Education
Higher Education has been subject to profound changes in last decades. The European education agenda, built in the framework of lifelong learning policies, the development of the Higher Education Area and the Bologna Process, between others, have challenged and leaded institutions to several reforms.
Mainly in the last two decades, the issue of “recognition and validation of non-formal and informal learning” has got a growing centrality in European policies and has strongly influenced the educational debate. The implementation of “lifelong learning through formal, non-formal and informal learning” it is still seen as a challenge in EU policies (E.U., 2010, C117/2). Several relevant changes have taken place recently and a cross-country analysis allows us to understand different levels of achievement and different dynamics that are taken place in the European context (Hawley et al, 2010).
Although the development of recognition of experiential learning in HE emerged in the late 1970s in England, it has been at the margins of the system for many years and recently re-emerged, stimulated by lifelong learning debate and widening participation (Pokorny, 2006). One of the main reasons it that these practices are expected to opening access to mature students without formal qualifications and also accelerating progression within HE for experienced students, raising their qualifications level (ibid).
In this presentation we give examples on the developments of recognition of prior experiential learning in European HE institutions — in countries considered with a “high” or “medium-high” degree of development in the European Inventory on Validation of Non-formal and Informal Learning (2010) — giving a general overview of how these processes are being carried on in the HE sector.
These examples allow as to understand that practices of recognition of prior learning are being currently used in HE institutions in order to facilitate admission and progression of non-traditional students, trough the development of special access procedures, exemptions or shortening of the length of studies, and awarding credits.
Besides discussing potentialities and benefits, we also analyze critically some of the current challenges associated with its implementation in HE, and we will focus on the epistemological conceptions and cultural resistances: the HE monopoly of knowledge, the need for renewing educational standards, the need to overcome the tension between scientific and discipline based knowledge and the experiential and professional knowledge.
We think that it is not possible to discuss the recognition of prior learning issue in HE without questioning the epistemological assumptions about knowledge and learning, where particular practices are embedded.
In that sense, we will focus the concept of “new ecology of knowledge” proposed by Sousa Santos (2010) and “(…) the passage from university knowledge to pluriversity knowledge” (2010:4). The author sustains that there is going on an “epistemological revolution” in the way that research and education traditionally have been carried out.
In this sense, the understanding of this HE epistemological culture can contribute to a lifelong learning society and to new educational practices embedded on the assumptions of a new ecology of knowledge.
E.U. Council (2010) 2010 Joint progress report of the Council and the Commission on the implementation of the Education and Training 2010 work program. Official Journal of the European Union (C117/2). E.U. Colardyn, D. and Bjørnåvold, J. (2005) The learning continuity: European Inventory on validating non-formal and informal learning. National Policies and practices in validating non-formal and informal learning. Cedefop Panorama series; 117 Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities. Hawley, J., Otero, M. and Duchemin, C. (2010) “2010 update” of the European Inventory on Validation of Non-Formal and Informal learning - Final report. GHK/CEDEFOP. Pires, Ana (2010-c) European Inventory on Validation of Non-formal and Informal Learning 2010. Case Study: Recognition of prior experiential learning in Higher Education in Portugal. GHK / CEDEFOP. Pires, Ana (2009-d) “Reconhecimento e validação das aprendizagens não formais e informais no ensino superior. Problemas e perspectivas.” International Conference on accreditation of non-formal qualifications in Higher Education Universidade de Lisboa, 25 Novembro de 2009. in Revista Medi@ções, vol- 1 nº 2, ESE/IPS, Setúbal Pokorny, Helen (2006) “Recognizing prior learning: what do we know?” in Re-theorising the Recognition of Prior Learning. Ed by Anderson & Harris, NIACE, England and Wales. Sousa Santos, B. (2010) The university in the twenty−first century. Towards a democratic and emancipatory university reform. In Eurozine. http://www.eurozine.com
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