A good way to start
Contact the teaching section of the program area you wish to seek RPL for. Contact us and we can help you get in touch with the right teaching section.
Identify the competencies
Competencies are best described using action words
- planning fundraising activities
- participating in group discussions
- teaching your children to use new computer software
- speaking to groups
- writing formal letters
- responding to complex spoken instructions eg How to use a fax
The best way to demonstrate that you have a skill is to give a specific example of something you have done in this area.
SKILL - speaking to groups
EXAMPLE - I am a member of a regional LandCare group. Last year I spoke to fifteen different clubs and organisations about LandCare issues. I always make changes to my presentation to suit the audience I am speaking to.
Comparing your competencies
Once you get used to identifying your competencies, try the next step in the process, comparing what you know and can do with the elements of competency and performance criteria or learning outcome.
Element of competency and performance criteria or learning outcome - Draft workplace correspondence from given instructions and information
EXAMPLE - I have been Secretary to the Black Hills High School P&C Association for 4 years and during that time I have written letters to MP's, local government officials, local businesses, sponsors, the Education Department, the local radio station and many others. Each letter has been discussed at P&C meetings or from instructions given by the President.
Once you have identified your prior learning and compared it with the specified element of competency and performance criteria or learning outcomes, your next task is to collect some evidence to prove what you say about yourself is true. A good way to start is by developing a portfolio.
What is evidence?
Evidence is any information which proves what you know and can do. This can be:-<
- Direct Evidence, that is first hand information about your competencies, eg Examples of your work in art, craft or design; a business letter you have written on a personal matter or for your club or committee.
- Indirect Evidence, that is, information from somewhere else about what you can do eg Supporting evidence from someone else about what you can do, or a statement from someone you made an item for, such as a dress or curtains, or for whom you have performed a service, such as building a shed or maintaining a garden.
Both direct and indirect evidence can be used in RPL.
What is a portfolio?
A portfolio is a collection of evidence. A portfolio does not mean a collection of certificates or references. It can include audio and video tapes, photographs, or examples of things you have made or done. A useful approach to planning a portfolio is tabled below.
|Element of Competency
||Your prior learning
|Express complex ideas and information
||Prepared a report for the committee with advice on, and argument for, the purchase of books and establishment of a Craft Library
- copy of report
- copy of minutes of the meeting where recommendations were accepted
When preparing your evidence, it must show
- the learning that comes from your experience, not just the experience itself, and
- your current competencies, based in evidence of your past learning experiences.
Beth attended a number of seminars about advertising and selling techniques. She listed her seminar attendance as evidence of prior learning when she applied for RPL in two modules in a Small Business Management course. Beth was not given RPL for the modules. Her application for RPL would have been stronger if she had included some direct and indirect evidence of the learning she gained from the seminars eg example of advertisements she had written and a reference from selling/marketing work (paid or unpaid) she had undertaken.
Some years ago, Peter attended a number of community classes on Basic Electronics. When he applied for RPL for a circuitry module in a Computer Systems Design course, he used his community course experience as evidence of prior learning. His application was unsuccessful. The assessor explained his decision was made because the rapid changes in the field of electronics meant that Peter's prior learning was no longer current.
Assessing your learning
The purpose of the RPL assessment is to:-
- link your prior learning with the learning outcomes of the module or course you have selected, and
- demonstrate that you already learned some or all of the course outcomes.
What happens during an assessment?
An RPL assessment may be carried out in a number of ways. The simplest way is for an assessor to review the evidence you have submitted.
When Susan applied for RPL for a module in the "Working for Women's Health" course, her application and supporting evidence were sufficient without her having to attend an interview. She was able to clearly show she had gained the stated competencies of the module by supplying notes and evaluation forms from a workshop she conducted while she was a volunteer working at a women's health centre.
An RPL assessment may involve an interview process, in which you answer questions and show a portfolio of evidence. This evidence may include an audio or video tape, photographs, a report from an employer, examples of completed work and references OR you may be asked to:
- carry out a practical exercise
- write an assignment
- participate in a role play etc
Paul was asked to take part in an RPL interview to demonstrate his verbal communication skills. In support of his case, Paul asked a friend to tape the speech he made at his football club's centenary dinner. At the interview he used his audio tape and the notes of his speech as evidence in his RPL assessment for the module, Presenting Information.
What are the assessors looking for?
From your evidence the assessor will decide if your prior learning is:-
- Relevant: can it be directly linked to the learning outcome you are claiming RPL for?
- Current: is your learning still valid, can you perform the skills you may have learned some years ago, and is the knowledge you have about this area still fresh?
Rebecca provided an annual report and a recent newsletter she had produced for her Neighbourhood Watch to show her word processing and desktop publishing skills were current.
- Authentic: have you actually learned what you claim and can this be verified from different sources?
Helen attended a calligraphy class at her local community college and was encouraged to enrol in a course that would give her formal qualifications. In preparation for applying for RPL, Helen took a series of photographs of the work she had produced for different occasions. The work was photographed at various stages of development and the photographs were signed and verified by Helen's tutor.
- Transferable: can the skills and knowledge you have learned in one situation be used in another?
Tom's love of photography meant his whole family was photographed many times. Their praise of his skills led him to attend a number of adult education courses which helped him develop competencies in camera operations and darkroom procedures. Following an RPL assessment Tom received RPL for some of the modules in the Associate Diploma of Art & Design (Photography).
- From a variety of sources: have you been able to demonstrate your prior learning in more than one way?
Kathy collected the following evidence to support her claim for RPL for Computer Fundamentals:
- a certificate of attendance from a 30 hour adult education computer course
- samples of her class work endorsed by the tutor
- a variety of samples showing how she applied her skills eg invitations, letters
If the assessor believes further evidence is needed they may ask you to attend an interview so you can give more details to support your application.
After the RPL assessment is completed the assessor should give you clear, prompt and constructive feedback about the results of your assessment. If you have any concerns, discuss them with the assessor. Being clear about the result of your assessment will give you greater confidence to use the appeal process if required.
Check to see if you have followed all the steps
- Find out all you can about RPL
- Assess yourself and identify your competencies
- Compare them with the elements of competency and performance criteria or learning outcomes of the module
- Collect a variety of evidence
- Apply for RPL
- Prepare yourself if a challenge activity or interview is required
- Discuss the outcomes with your assessor. An appeal can be lodged if you are not satisfied with the process of the RPL assessment.