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Prior Learning and Ways of Knowing

Karen A. Stevens


This study explored the relationship between prior learning portfolio development and Kegan’s theory of constructive-developmentalism, i.e., the changes individuals go through in their epistemology or ways of knowing. Of specific concern was whether students who completed a narrative prior learning portfolio through the University Without Walls changed their way of knowing – an indicator of transformative learning – as a result of this process. Findings indicated that some students, though not all, did experience a change in order of mind and that these were related to the prior learning portfolio development process. Suggestions are made regarding avenues for future research and how educators might better foster transformative learning within a student’s current order of mind, enhancing the likelihood of developmental change.

Keywords: Prior learning assessment, constructive-developmentalism, ways of knowing, order of mind, transformative learning, subjective-object interview

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