A Habermasian Analysis of a Process of Recognition of Prior Learning for Health Care Assistants

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This article discusses a process of recognition of prior learning for accreditation of prior experiential learning to qualify for course credits used in an adult in-service education program for health care assistants at the upper-secondary level in Sweden. The data are based on interviews and observations drawn from a field study, and Habermas's theory of communicative action is used for analysis. The main findings suggest that the students do not fully understand the assessment process or how their prior learning was transformed into credits. This reflects the teacher's strategic actions and the lack of mutual understanding. Examples are sketched about how the process could be developed using the theory of communicative action. From a Habermasian perspective, this process is also criticized as promoting an assimilation of lifeworld-grounded experiences to the system. This form of recognition of prior learning does not seem to satisfy important goals and ideals in adult education and learning.


External organisations
  • Linköping University
Research areas and keywords


  • adult learning, Habermas, health care assistants, recognition of prior learning, theory of communicative action
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)351-370
Number of pages20
JournalAdult Education Quarterly
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Nov
Publication categoryResearch
Externally publishedYes