Transformative Learning: Immigrant Learners Who Participated in Recognition of Acquired Competencies (RAC)

Transformative Learning: Immigrant Learners Who Participated in Recognition of Acquired Competencies (RAC)

Leah Moss, Andy Brown
DOI: 10.4018/ijavet.2014010106
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Recognition of Acquired Competencies (RAC) as it is known in Quebec, Canada or Prior Learning Assessment (PLA), requires a learner to engage in retrospective thought about their learning path, their learning style and their experiential knowledge. This process of critical self-reflection and rigorous analysis by the learner of their prior learning is often the first exposure to the examination of their own knowledge. This article provides case studies of immigrant learners from the Montreal, Quebec area in a Recognition of Acquired Competencies process in vocational education. Through the analysis of interviews with learners, the authors suggest transformative learning is a by-product of the Recognition of Acquired Competencies process.
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Recognition of Acquired Competencies (RAC) is a service offered through educational institutions in the Province of Quebec, Canada to adult learners. In 2002, the Government of Quebec produced an Action Plan for Adult Education and Continuing Education and Training in which a commitment was made to:

  • Take aggressive action toward the official recognition of adults’ prior learning and competencies.

  • Offer recognition of prior learning and competencies as a regular service in adult education and continuing education and training in Quebec (Québec, Ministère de l’Éducation, 2002, p. 25).

Subsequent to this policy initiative, a network of trained pedagogical advisors was established to offer RAC services to the public. The service is offered through vocational education in adult learning centers in school boards and the General and Vocational College system of the Province which is commonly referred to by the French acronym CEGEP (Collège d'enseignement general et professionnel). There are 48 public CEGEPs within the Province of Quebec that offer post-secondary education. The diploma of college studies from a CEGEP is a prerequisite for Quebec student admission to university within the Province. These institutions are often compared to junior colleges or community colleges however they are unique to Quebec. In addition to offering a diploma of college studies, the CEGEPs also offer attestations in vocational studies that are recognized as valuable accreditation by the labor market of the Province.

The service of the Recognition of Acquired Competencies is similar in principle to Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) in that a person’s prior learning is assessed and recognized toward formal accreditation. According to the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) Prior Learning Assessment is defined as “the process of earning college credit for college-level learning acquired from other sources, such as work experience, professional training, military training, or open source learning from the web” (CAEL, n.d.).In Quebec, the recognition of experiential learning is linked to academic programs within adult vocational and general education programs. The researchers of this article are employed by Champlain College Saint-Lambert, a CEGEP just south of Montreal and are part of the Centre of Expertise in Recognition of Acquired Competencies (CERAC) – an initiative funded and supported by the Ministère de l’Enseignement Supérieur, de la Recherche, de la Science et de la Technologie (MESRST). The purpose of this study is to share case studies of immigrant learners who enrolled in the RAC service at Champlain College Saint-Lambert and who, as a result of the process, experienced a sense of transformative learning.

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