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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.

Learning Outcome: Definition

Learning outcome has obviously another nature than in a lot of formal educational institutions and programs. We use an understanding that is broad enough, following a study of CEDEFOP: “Learning outcomes are statements of what a learner knows, understands and is able to do after completion of learning.”[1]

Identification and Validation

EU distincts between the terms of identification and validation. [2]


  • Makes the individual’s learnings and outcomes in a general way visible
  • Rather in a less formal way


  • “Based on the assessment of the individual’s learning outcomes.”
  • Fixing learning outcome in form of a certificate or diploma.
  • Identified skills and competencies may build the ground for validation.

Your Perspective on Identification and Validation

As well in non-formal education we are able to describe competency levels and the specific mixture of competences required for concrete tasks. In example we could imagine to design an ideal job profile, the profile for a specific facilitator position or we could validate and recognize specific skills of a facilitator or a trainee. As well training programs start to define their intended impact by focusing on their participants' capacities for applying the outcome, instead to a knowledge focused learning definition.

Key Competences for Lifelong Learning

One approach promoted by European Union is following the concept of their EU Key Competences for Lifelong Learning. The eight key competences are the framework and in addition there are some tools for validation and recognition:

EU Validation and Recognition Tools


Portfolio for youth leaders

European Skills Passport

  • from: European Commission
  • URL: EuroPASS

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]

A Concept of Validation for your Learning Process

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.

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.

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.


  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...


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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.

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With financial assistance
of the European Union