PLIRC publishes Handbook of the Recognition of Prior Learning: Research into Practice

Researching Prior Learning

Ably edited by Dr. Judy Harris with assistance from Dr. Christine Wihak and Dr. Joy Van Kleef, PLIRC scholars have contributed to this groundbreaking 2014 publication from NIACE. The book was officially launched at the International Conference on Skills for the Future, co-hosted by Toulouse Business School and Curtin University School of Business. Dr. Christine Wihak, director of PLIRC, Dr. Judy Harris, editor of the Handbook, and Dr. Ros Cameron, PLIRC member from Curtin University, did the honours.

In the Handbook of the Recognition of Prior Learning: Research into Practice, experienced researchers consolidated and extended their research in terms of its implications for practice. Recognition of prior learning (RPL) is emerging as a distinct area of academic research with a growing body of scholarly literature. This handbook, organised thematically, consolidates the major research findings of experienced RPL researchers from around the world, identifying future research directions and drawing together evidence-based implications for policy and practice.

Summit 2013

This internationally relevant text will be of particular interest to:

academics, researchers and students in education, policy studies, widening participation, lifelong, adult, continuing, recurrent and initial education and learning
practitioners concerned with RPL policy and actual RPL practice who wish to understand research and its relationship to practice or wanting to research (and improve) their own practice
human resources managers

October, 2014

SUMMIT 2013 Surging to the Future: Research-informed policy, practice and innovation in the Recognition of Prior Learning

Summit 2013

PLIRC Board members and scholars shared their expertise with PLAR practitioners and policy-makers affiliated with the BC PLA Network at the SUMMIT 2013 conference in Vancouver, March 25-27, which was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. The presentations are available below:

Keynote Speakers

Dr. Alan Davis - Crossing Borders, Charting New Territory (PDF)
Dr. Patrick Werquin - RNFIL (RPL-PLAR), QF, VET and the Labour Market (PDF)
Dr. Judy Harris - Research as the Nexus (PDF)


Dr. Roslyn Cameron - Embedding RPL in Human Resource Management Practice: Learning From Downunder (PDF)
Dr. Dianne Conrad - Research Informing Practice, Practice Inspiring Research Practitioner's Tale (PDF)
Dr. Linda Cooper - Treading a Fine Line: RPL as a Potentially Divisive Discourse (PDF)
Ms. Mona Pielorz - Career Development and RNFIL (PDF)
Ms. Helen Pokorny - Birthing Pains: Struggle and Fulfillment in Accrediting Prior Learning (PDF)
Dr. Nan Travers - Practitioner Training (PDF)
Dr. Joy Van Kleef - PLAR in Regulated Professions: A Deficit Model of Difference (PDF)
Prof. Warren Weir - PLA and Aboriginal (Community) Economic Development: The Cando Aproach (PDF)
Prof. Ruth Whittaker - From Theory to Praxis: The Highways and Byways of Scotland (PDF)
Dr. Angie Wong - Navigating the Complex World of University Learning: Insights for PLAR Practitioners and Advocates (PDF)

April, 2013

Prior Learning Assessment Inside Out, Issue 2

The second issue of Prior Learning Assessment Inside Out (PLAR-IO) is now available at:

In the PLIRC Research Database news column, a regular feature of PLAR-IO, we ask the provocative question "What Counts as Research?". This issue also features contributions from PLIRC members Nan Travers, Joy Van Kleef, Ruth Whittaker and Patrick Werquin.

November, 2012

PLIRC Book Published

Researching Prior Learning

Researching Prior Learning, a new book containing contributions from all PLIRC Board members, was published in June. Edited by Drs. Judy Harris, Migonne Brieir and Christine Wihak, this book is an authoritative, up-to-date overview of international research practice in RPL aimed at researchers, policy-makers, postgraduate students and practitioners in education and other professional fields, especially those concerned with access, widening participation and work-based learning. It provides a comprehensive account of current research in the UK, Canada, Sweden, Australia, South Africa, the USA and other EU and OECD countries. Scholars from each country or jurisdiction were invited to address key questions: Who is doing research? How are they doing it, and why? What questions are being asked?

Designed to consolidate international approaches and identify research gaps, possibilities and emerging questions to support the development of innovative research and scholarship into the theory and practice of RPL over the next decade, this book lays the groundwork for the development of RPL as a community of scholarship.

August 26, 2011

PLIRC members at International Conference on Validation, Oslo, Norway, March 2012

Dr. Patrick Werquin and Dr. Christine Wihak made invited presentations to the International Conference on Validation. Dr. Per Anderson, a PLIRC affiliate member, also made an invited presentation that highlighted findings on Scandanavian research from his chapter in Researching the Recognition of Prior Learning. Hosted by Nordisk Nätverk for Vuxnas Lärande (NVL) in collaboration with Vox, the Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training (Udir) and the Education, Audivisual and Cultural Executive Agency (EACEA), the conference was attended by policy makers, practitioners and researchers from 26 countries. A chronological record of the Oslo conference can be found at

March 14, 2012

Inaugural issue of PLA Inside Out: An International Journal on Theory, Research and Practice in Prior Learning Assessment

"The first issue of PLA Inside Out: An International Journal on Theory, Research and Practice in Prior Learning Assessment has just been published at

Thanks for the continuing interest in our work. We look forward to your ongoing comments and contributions."

March 14, 2012

PLIRC Board Member Judy Harris at International Symposium in Glasgow

Dr. Judy Harris, Open Learning Scholar and Adjunct Professor at TRU, delivered a keynote presentation at the international symposium Learning through experience: Developing international and regional research agenda for RPL, hosted by the Centre for Research on Lifelong Learning at Glasgow Caledonian University. The symposium was hosted by PLIRC Board member, Ruth Whittaker.

Other PLIRC members participating in the symposium included Dr. Ros Cameron from Australia, Dr. Mignonne Brieir from South Africa, Dr. Christine Wihak (PLIRC Director), Ms. Joy Van Kleef from Canada and Ms. Helen Pokorny from the United Kingdom. For more information and slide presentations, visit the symposium website.

August 26, 2011

Watch Now: A Presentation by Dr. Patrick Werquin


On June 6, Dr. Patrick Werquin presented a talk entitled "Promoting Lifelong Learning: Recognition of Non-Formal and Informal Learning in the Context of National Qualification Systems." It provides an overview of the key issues involved in recognizing non-formal and informal learning, ranging from the legitimacy of the learning activities themselves (in terms of the outcomes to be recognized), to the cost of the necessary assessment and the essential elements such as quality assurance standards used, potential benefits and real obstacles.

The findings summarized here are based on a report that describes and analyzes practices from 22 countries surveyed in an OECD study (2009). More information about this study and Dr. Werquin's publications may be found on the OECD website.

This presentation was sponsored by TRU School of Business and Economics and TRU Prior Learning International Research Centre.

Watch Now

Download a PDF of Dr. Werquin's slides

May 26, 2011

Agreement signed with World’s Largest University


TRU Open Learning and The Open University of China have agreed to establish a joint centre at OUC in Beijing to collaborate on a broad range of academic activities including joint research and Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition training (PLAR). Read more at

Prior Learning Assessment & Recognition: Emergence of a Canadian Community of Scholars.

Dr. Christine Wihak convened a workshop entitled Prior Learning Assessment & Recognition: Emergence of a Canadian Community of Scholars in Ottawa on Nov 6-7, 2010. The first event of its kind in Canada, the workshop brought scholars and graduate students from across Canada together to discuss their previous and on-going research in the field of PLAR. PLIRC is grateful to SSHRC (Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council) for providing funding for the event, which was held in association with the annual CAPLA (Canadian Association for Prior Learning Assessment) conference. Click the links to see the workshop program and presentations.

Workshop program (PDF)

Workshop presentations:

Dr. David Livingstone (PDF)
Dr. Judy Harris (PDF)
Adina Gray (PDF)
Dr. Angelina Wong (PDF)
Dr. Shibao Guo (PDF)


New PLA journal announced

Dr. Nan Travers - Co-editor of new PLA journal


PLIRC is delighted to have a representative (Dr. Christine Wihak) on the editorial board of PLA Inside-Out: A Journal of Research, Theory and Practice in Prior Learning Assessment. The new publication, the first peer-reviewed journal dedicated to PLAR, is an initative of Empire State College. Dr. Nan Travers, who serves on the PLIRC Board, will be co-editor, along with internationally known author Alan Mandell.

For further information please go to PLA Inside-Out details (PDF).

PLIRC Conference Presentations

In 2010, members of PLIRC's Board have shared information about our mission and research initiatives at conferences around the globe.

Patrick Werquin chaired the closing panel at the Observal Final Dissemination Conference in Brussels on October 13, while Joy Van Kleef was a panel member discussing global perspectives on the future of the field.

Roslyn Cameron made a presentation on PLIRC at the e-portolios Australia 2010 conference in Melbourne on Nov. 3. To see her presentation, click here

Judy Harris and Joy Van Kleef presented on the international research agenda emerging from PLIRC's forthcoming book at the CAPLA (Canadian Association for Prior Learning) Conference in Ottawa on November 8.

Judy Harris and Nancy Travers presented on Researching PLAR: Creating an International Research Agenda at the CAEL (Council for Adult and Experiential Learning) Conference in San Diego on November 11.

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