Exploring the transformative potential of recognition of prior informal learning for learners: a case study in Scotland

Julie Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


This article presents an overview of the findings of a recently completed study exploring the potentially transformative impact upon learners of recognition of prior informal learning (RPL). The specific transformative dimension being reported is learner identity. In addition to providing a starting point for an evidence base within Scotland, the research findings have the potential to enhance future development within the recognition of prior informal learning area, in particular in higher education institutions (HEIs) and across the sector. A qualitative case study using a constructionist approach is utilised to develop contextual understandings of the learner experience of RPL. The study identifies connections between the RPL process and the development of learner identity. Semi-structured interviews with RPL learners provided rich data. This study asserts that learner identity fluctuates throughout learners’ experiences and therefore the development of learner identity is not linear but nonetheless that identity changes as part of the RPL process. A number of issues ultimately impact upon learner identities, including the role of RPL advisors and RPL mechanisms and processes. This research concludes that RPL has the potential to be transformative for some learners and identifies some areas worthy of further exploration.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)60-78
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Further and Higher Education
Issue number1
Early online date21 Jul 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • recognition of prior learning
  • learner identity
  • Scotland
  • learner experience


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