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Rethinking the Role of RPL Assessment Within an Interactive Activity System

Loffie Naudé


This paper aims to provide arguments for reconsidering recognition of prior learning (RPL) assessment methods. In doing so, theories and arguments around academic and workplace knowledge, the boundaries of disciplines and its perceived supremacy are discussed, which culminate into an RPL model: the third space. The third space aims to be a transdisciplinary and boundary-crossing mechanism to facilitate transfer of knowledge between academic institutions and workplaces. This RPL model takes the reader to the point that two questions are asked: Does the notion of a third space require a change in assessment practices? If so, to what extent should RPL assessment practices change? By utilizing activity theory (Engeström) and critical theory (Bhaskar), an argument is made that two different activity system such as the academic institution and the workplace could have the same learning objectives, which challenge traditional RPL assessment practices. Two RPL assessment approaches are discussed to illustrate rethinking of assessment practices: competency conversation and a heuristic RPL assessment approach.

Keywords: Recognition of prior learning, knowledge, knowledge boundaries, activity theory, critical realism, transdisciplinarity, heuristic RPL assessment approach

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