Understanding RPL Evidence:

More than a resume and a good chat

The RPL assessment process uses various forms of evidence to establish a candidate’s competency. In addition to meeting the Principles of Assessment, such evidence also needs to meet the Rules of Evidence, that is, the evidence provided must be:

  • Valid
  • Sufficient
  • Authentic and
  • Current

5 understanding

Current evidence is generally recognised as evidence from within the last 5 years and may need to be within the last 2 years for critical skills or licensing purposes. The Standards for RTOs 2015 state that the evidence for competency needs to be from the present or the very recent past. For RPL purposes, ‘very recent past’ is usually accepted as being within 2 -5 years, depending on the skill or knowledge base, and any legislation or licensing that might affect the competency being assessed.

Traditionally it was generally recommended that assessment criteria should be supported by a minimum of two pieces of RPL evidence. However, it is not evidence itself that demonstrates competency, rather it is what the evidence contains and conveys about the competency demonstrated by the RPL candidate.

It is essential for an RPL Practitioner to be very familiar with the:

  1. current industry skills for the competency being assessed
  2. unit of competency assessment requirements
  3. types of evidence that may be used to demonstrate competency.

Direct and Indirect Evidence

RPL evidence may be either direct (or primary), or indirect (or secondary).

Direct (or Primary Source) Evidence is evidence that is original and that has not been filtered through interpretation or modified. It is a factual sample and represents something real that is unchanged. Common examples of direct or primary evidence include work samples, recordings, records, artifacts, or any original documents (i.e. birth certificate, license, academic transcript.)

Indirect (or Secondary Source) Evidence is evidence that is an account written after the fact with the benefit of hindsight. It is an interpretation, a commentary or evaluation of direct or primary evidence. It is often an unverified personal account of history or events that is less reliable than direct evidence. Common examples of indirect or secondary evidence include a resume or written reference.

Direct evidence, when relevant and verified, generally carries more value than indirect evidence when establishing the facts about a matter. However, in the absence of direct evidence, which is often the case with RPL evidence, a corroborating mixture of verified indirect evidence may be sufficient to come to a reasonable conclusion about the facts or set of assumptions that determine competency. This is the exercise of professional judgment by an RPL assessor.

Types of Evidence

RPL evidence most often refers to documentary or electronic evidence, which may include:

  • personal information
  • workplace information
  • information from a third party.

The following table lists some of the types of evidence that are typically presented as RPL evidence.

rpl evidence type

This is an excerpt from “Recognition of Prior Learning: A Practitioner’s Guide”, a free RPL resource available for TAE trainers and students that can be downloaded from www.rpl.solutions.

If you are looking for easier, better and smarter ways to manage and conduct RPL for your RTO, contact us for further information or to arrange a free, no obligation consultation.

5 September 2016 © Russell Savage, WWW RPL Solutions founder, RPL123® architect and co-author of Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL): A Practitioner’s Guide