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The legitimisation of knowledge: a work‐based learning perspective of APEL

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Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL) is now an established but relatively underused process in higher education (HE). In our review article, we argue that this is because APEL not only challenges the traditional university monopoly of knowledge but also challenges other established processes and social constructions. Work‐Based Learning (WBL) has used APEL to great advantage in allowing people to gain access to HE. Also, it has done much to challenge traditional discipline based assumptions associated with APEL practice through seeking to recognise the knowledge and abilities that come about through the three spheres of work, the academic and the personal. This article examines the perspectives of five tutors who regularly support the development of, and assess the APEL claims of WBL students. The perspectives of the tutors are presented as vignettes. These, together with three short case examples, are used to illustrate themes that are related to the APEL process: power and control within the infrastructure of universities; the power of the disciplines to skew the depth and significance of prior and experiential learning; the pressure from government for universities to foster employee learning; competing value positions of academics and of students; and the social influence of students and assessors' gender, race and class. We look at these five overlapping themes and how the field of WBL may have certain features that can help overcome these constructions in the APEL process. We also consider the struggles of WBL and its own emerging value positions.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Middlesex University, UK

Publication date: 2006-07-01

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