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Created By N. Zimmermann

Knowledge skills and competencies gained through non-formal and informal education needs to be recognized in the society. Or in other words: The learning outcome needs to be made visible for the learning person and its environment. Although a lot of outcomes and developments in terms of a gain of competences are not easily to be certified in a formal way, facilitators might use tools that document processes and personal developments.

Identification and Validation

EU distincts between the terms of identification and validation in order to describe the learning outcome. [2]


  • Makes the individual’s learnings and outcomes in a general way visible
  • Rather in a less formal way
  • Making use of different and free forms of description, assessment and documentation


  • The confirmation by a competent body
  • that learning outcomes have been assessed
  • against predefined criteria
  • compliant with the requirements of a validation standard.
  • Validation typically leads to certification.

Your Perspective on Identification and Validation

In all learning settings we are able to describe competency levels and the specific mixture of competences required for concrete tasks. This description must go beayond formal grades in order to cover the broad aspects of competencies. The focus should be set on applicability. Especially in non-formal education educational providers and educators need to think beyond certification, as the latter is often not available: validation is in consequence connected with a credible authority in form of a formal learning provider.

The more common approach will be identification and credible and evidence-based description of competency levels and competency development: Describing Competency Development

Competetency frameworks give orientation

Competency frameworks might give orientation and help to gain focus, in example Council of Europe's "Competencies for Democratic Culture" or EU's Key Competencies for Lifelong Learning. You will find examples on Handbooks for Facilitators. In addition the European Commission and Council of Europe took care for developing and promoting tools like:

European Qualification Framework

On a systemic level there is as well another important European framework. The European Qualification Framework (EQR) and the subordinated EU member state's national qualification frameworks seek to gain more compatibility between the different national education systems. The main challenge is here to describe vocational profiles and educational outcome for a broad range of educational fields. Therefore the competency model is elaborated enough to offer a profound description of the concrete validations as a basis for certification and documentation of the gain of knowledge and skills. [3]

Methodologically member states agreed on the EQF in 2008, which is concretized through every member state with a national qualification framework. [4] On 8 levels a definition for the needed knowledge, skills and competencies was defined, from level one – “basic knowledge” – up to level 8 –“knowledge at the most advanced frontier of a field of work or study and at the interface between fields”. The framework provides therefore "benchmarks for qualification levels across Europe and encourage the embedding of validation systems with formal qualifications system"[1] Member states develop their national qualification frameworks like in Germany through a Working Group on national level and a coordination group of Länder and federal government.[5]

Articles, Checklists and Methods

Toward Your Concept for the Description of Learning Outcome

Knowledge skills and competencies as learning outcome need to be made visible for the learning person and its environment. However learning outcome has in informal and non-formal education another nature than in a lot of formal educational institutions and programs. Therefore, training providers need to develop alternative ways of describing and assessing the developments and qualities of their learner.

How to: Describing Competency Development

Competence description entails how persons can apply knowledge, skills and attitudes after learning. Therefore, description of learning outcome is a communication intrument with the learner and with third persons. Furthermore, a certificate or whatever method one uses informs about the facilitators and their organization, its values and their capacities.

Learning Curve

Ask participants to visualize their back activities like a project or the activity within a longer learning process. The vizualition will be made in form of a learning curve. The horizontal axis describes time, the vertical axis describes the feeling associated with the activity/project and the learning outcome.

A letter from the past

Participants of a training or seminar document the aspects of a meeting that are most essential for their future activities. They remember these aspects and gain motivation after the meeting.

From now to tomorrow

The method combines evaluation of the past activities with the future perspectives and the opportunities zhat appear through the gain of competences as a result of project work.

Key Competency Profile

Key Competencies are abilities learners might use in a broad range of social contexts - in social participation, as employees, in their way to express their culture or for their personal development. This task helps teams and organizations to identify their key competency profile including the competencies learners, visitors or participants might learn during their activities.

Personal Portfolio

Portfolios help the participants to reflect on their way of learning and on Sustainable Development on a personal level. No one is going to look at it – it’s a personal (structured) diary. It will accompany the participant through their whole activity.

Learning Badges

Open Badges is a digital approach for sharing badges for learning achievements, similar like the scout movement does it with textile badges on the scouts' uniforms.



  1. 1.0 1.1 European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training, 2009: [ The shift to learning outcomes Policies and practices in Europe]; p. 30
  2. European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training, 2009: [ The shift to learning outcomes Policies and practices in Europe]; p. 15
  3. European Commission: Learning Opportunities and Qualifications in Europe
  5. Deutscher Qualifizierungsrahmen:

Example: Civic Engagement Workshop

The education programme from Poland, Ukraine and Belarus worked with a portfolio based on EU youthpass. Participants registered a platform [1] and safed all their learning achievements related to specific competences described in EU and OECD documents in a tailor made portfolio. At the end of the programme, the YouthPasses were attached to the certificates.

Example: Captain's Log


An example for a structured competency-related portfolio tool which might be used in your training or training programme. More...


back to the main section After

  • Identification of Learning Outcome


Identification shows, what an individual knows, understands and is able to do in a general way. Validation is evaluating such learning outcome and providing proof.

A joint project of the Competendo Community. Implemented with financial assistance of the European Union