Prior Learning Assessment and the Developmental Journey

Annalee J. Lamoreaux

in The Oxford Handbook of Reciprocal Adult Development and Learning

Second edition

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780199736300
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

Prior Learning Assessment and the Developmental Journey

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  • Developmental Psychology



Prior learning assessment (PLA), once primarily a process to earn academic credit for extramural learning, has been recognized as a meaningful learning experience in its own right. This chapter, which includes sections on history, research, theory, and practice, examines PLA-related outcomes consistent with transformative learning and constructive-developmental theories. Using the metaphor of “map maker” to describe changes in adult learners’ ways of knowing, the authors illustrate movement from mapless to multiple map users to cartographers—the latter being those who can reconstruct, redefine, and recreate the maps they use to make meaning of an increasingly complex world. Educational practices shown to support these changes include reflecting critically on experience, writing-to-learn, exposure to multiple perspectives, and mentoring. These discoveries may inform adult educators’ approaches to teaching and learning beyond the boundaries of a PLA course.

Keywords: experiential learning; reflection; transformative learning; adult development; holding environment; cognitive complexity; teaching and learning; writing-to-learn; mentoring; adult education; epistemological transformation

Article.  14641 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Developmental Psychology

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