Recognition of Prior Learning in Health Care : From a Caring Ideology and Power, to Communicative Action and Recognition

Sammanfattning: During the last decades Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) has become a more frequently used method to recognise adult’s prior learning. This thesis analyses a process of RPL in health care, where health care assistants are assessed against subjects in the upper-secondary health care program. Prior research on RPL is to a high degree non-theoretical and focus is primarily on policy level research. This thesis adds to the field by progressing a critical social theory perspective on RPL. In the thesis the RPL process is analysed through Jürgen Habermas’ theory of communicative action and Axel Honneth’s Recognition theory. General questions posed are: What are the power issues in the RPL process? What implications does the tension between the lifeworld of work and the system of education have? What consequences does mutual understanding and communication have for the outcome of the RPL process? What part does recognition play for the participants? The results disclose the power relations that emerge in the relationship between participants and teachers. A caring ideology is developed and problematized. Further, the importance of mutual understanding between participant and teachers in the assessment of prior learning is discussed focusing on the consequences a lack of mutual understanding could have for the outcome in such assessments. On a macro level the analysis demonstrates the tension between the participants prior learning and the educational systems demand for formalising prior learning. In addition, analyses of a more developmental character that intends to show the potential for critical learning, change and recognition are progressed.The results suggest that communicative action can be used to develop RPL into processes focusing on critical learning and change. Recognition of traits and abilities could also enhance individual’s positive relations with the self. Such recognition could develop self-confidence and thus RPL could encourage learning and cultivate continuing self-realisation through work.