|dc.contributor.advisor||Samuel, Michael Anthony.||
|dc.description||Thesis (Ph.D.) - University of Durban-Westville, 2004.||en
|dc.description.abstract||As part of the transformation agenda of education and training policy, the
main thrust of Recognition and Prior Learning (RPL) in the South
African policy context was to contribute to addressing social justice
issues such as equity, redress and access of the majority of adult learners,
who were historically denied access to formal learning. The study focuses on the following critical questions: What are the official policy claims of the assessment and recognition of prior learning at the national and sectoral level? How do assessors mediate official policy in recognising and assessing
prior learning of adult learners in an institutional context? What are the experiences and engagements of adult learners in having their prior learning assessed?
This research responds to the conceptual gaps in the study of RPL
policy and practice and the National Qualifications Framework. The
study examines epistemological issues such as: what and whose
knowledge is considered as valid; the relationship between knowledge
and experience; the relationship between different types of knowledge
and learning; and the relationship between knowledge and access to power.
The study also addresses a contextual gap: very limited research exists
on the RPL experiences of societies in transition with similar transformational agendas as South Africa.
The present research study also examines the implementation process
in a transitional context, exploring the gap that develops between
intended policies and actual practice.
This is a qualitative study using the case study approach to examine the
complexities of the assessment and recognition of prior learning process
in a Technical College Institution located in the Further Education and Training Band.
The analysis of selected international case studies of RPL contributed to
identifying and exploring conceptual gaps in RPL policy and practice.
These conceptual issues provided the first set of preliminary lens for the
production, description and analysis of data in the research study. The
preliminary lens were then re-interpreted and elaborated in relation to
Bernstein 's theory (1996) of symbolic control and cultural production.
reproduction and change. The synthesised conceptual framework
provided a theoretical vocabulary to redescribe and reinterpret data at
deeper levels of abstraction.
The key findings of the research were as follows:
The undertheorisation of RPL in policy circles and the ways in which
policy has tended to gloss over issues such as "equivalence",
"integrated competence", knowledge-power dynamics and the
differences between mainstream and outsider knowledge;
The gap between policy rhetoric and sectoral practice. The sector
advocated a technicist approach to RPL that was preoccupied with
matching adult experiential learning against prescribed standards.
The sector practice marginalized or even excluded adult learners who
had acquired their knowledge and learning in non-formal and
Nevertheless, assessors who were socially and culturally sensitive to
the RPL process had an implicit understanding of the different types
of knowledge and knowers. Their developmental approach to RPL provided an enabling environment for adult learners to demonstrate
their learning and knowledge from experience.
Adult learners without high levels of formal literacy were able to
demonstrate their ability to reflect on their experiential learning to
transfer their abstract and critical thought processes to solve new
problems in the assessment context. The research highlights the
commensurability between informal and formal knowledge and the
ability of workers who have learnt their skills informally to
demonstrate high levels of conceptual and transferable skills.
The present research makes the following theoretical contributions:
Firstly , Bernstein's theory was extended to examine policy formulation
and the policy process. Within the framework of critical policy analysis,
a new construct: "relations outside" was created as an analytical tool to
examine the nuances of the macro-contexts (historical, political, social,
economic) which shape the meaning and significance of policy.
Secondly, the research study produces a new conceptual framework to
analyse the complex and dynamic nature of RPL policy and practice in a
The present study advocates a critical and holistic approach to RPL
that interrogates how power-relations within and across contextual,
epistemological and pedagogical issues reproduce or challenge the
existing patterns of inequalities in society.||en
|dc.subject||Universities and colleges--Accreditation--South Africa.||en
|dc.subject||Universities and colleges--Entrance requirements.||en
|dc.subject||Experiential learning--South Africa.||en
|dc.subject||Education, Higher--South Africa||en
|dc.title||Recognition of prior learning and assessment of adult learners : considerations for theory, policy and practice.||en