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Dewey, Individuality and PLA Policy in Higher Education

Xenia Coulter


This article argues that John Dewey’s philosophy of progressive education offers, from a variety of perspectives, a strong rationale for the use of prior learning assessments in higher education. His philosophy also offers a foundation for implementation policies that can make use of contemporary formulations in the social sciences, such as activity theory, and procedures already evident and accepted in academia. These policies can also enable administrators and faculty to better appreciate “learning from experience” as an integral component of knowledge acquisition that is fully appropriate in formal educational settings, as well as informal or more worldly situations. As Dewey sees individualized learning experience as essential in sustaining a democratic society, we can recognize, by analogy, that it is also an important stimulus for the continued growth and development of American higher education.

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