Systematic collection, review, and use, of information and evidence to represent, evaluate and report learning, in different ways, for different purposes.
Focuses of Reflection
Already during Planning facilitators were considering goals, contents, methods, topic, needs and the environment.
During a process or training it is necessary to check if the process is still inline with the plans or if priorities have changed or needs are different, or a process should take a general different direction.
Serves learning progression, supporting development over time, integral and repeating part of a learning process.
At the end of a phase or learning process, other reasons for evaluation may also come into play. You may want to demonstrate a person's learning progress or performance, or you may want to check whether the different goals have been achieved.
Conducted at the end of a learning process.
These examples make clear that several purposes for evaluation exist and these might also shift during time.
Why are we assessing?
Assessment for measurement requiring a stable metric to identify starting points and distance travelled.
Assessment for selection requiring rank order or criterion-referenced
Assessment to diagnose next learning steps
Assessment to evidence impact or competence
Assessment to evaluate the learning approaches taken, educator or organisational performance.
What are we assessing?
In process-oriented and non-formal learning processes we very often reflect how successful we facilitated a learning unit or to what extend the element of the process contributed to the intended goals. The aspects in assessment are similar to the criteria for planning. For instance, one could follow this logics:
- Group: Regarding the aimed interaction and cooperative learning in the group
- Topic: The coverage of the foreseen topical aspects
- Individual: Learning/development goals (in particular competency development, see below)
- Process: The proceeding of the collective learning process
- The choice of methods and their mix
- The ability of facilitators to implement their methodological concept
- Process moderation
- Coverage of the necessary thematical aspects at a satisfactory depth
- Inclusion of knowledge from the field participation/citizenship/democracy and how it was connected to the goal of the training
- Facility: Opportunity to learn, to cooperate, to meet, to feel well-accommodated
- Group: Opportunity and ability to involve, interact, relate to the other learners
- Individual needs: Possibility to satisfy individual needs inside and outside the scheduled activities: social, cultural/spiritual, physical, intellectual, emotional
- With special attention to special needs
- Inclusion of the local environment: in seminar work, in topical aspects
- Participant's acquisition of competences
- Participant's development towards feeling self-empowered and their ability to democratic participation
- Your acquisition of competences as a facilitator
- Event management, logistics, problem-solving
- Cooperation within the facilitation team
To make a reasoned judgment, one needs a data base in addition to predetermined focus and purpose. Therefore, assessment is always dependent on good evaluation material.
In more traditional academic assessment, educational purposes have tended to focus on testing knowledge and understanding in one hit, examination-style papers, which are dominated by written evidence.
However, increasing awareness of the limitations, potential bias and ‘wash back’ of formal examinations has strengthened calls for more purposeful and meaningful assessment methods, drawing from richer and more diverse evidence, over time.
Within your process:
- Declarative methods,
- Portfolio method,
- Learning diary,
- Autonomous reflection groups of learners,
- Evidence extracted from (project)work,
At the end of a learning process may stand....
- Competence description along standards for programs or learning events
- Certificates for participation
- Qualified competence description
- A completed portfolio
- Learning diary
The Method Mix
The quality of results depends on the methodology of data collection for reflection. In particular, a range of different ways to assess and interpret the needed data should be included, according to the principle of method mix.
Use a variety of methods according to:
- Choose appropriate methods for your target group
- Anonymous, half-public, or public
- In a plenum, in other collaborative ways, or self-assessment
Addresses different senses
- Individually speaking, dialogue, writing, or moving
Quantitative or qualitative?
How deep should or must your evaluation go? When you want to know how your participants feel, you ask them to show you “thumb up/down”. Afterwards you know that ten persons feel well and three of them not so well.
Uses numerical data, intends answers on pre- described questions and sets focus on measurability (i.e. a group votes or facilitators prepare a test questionaire).
Or you ask detailed qualitative questions, with which you find out why they feel such a way or what they need to feel better. You use a quantitative and a qualitative method – both of them are effective based on the situation, and often complement each other.
Focus on specific narrative information, answers are not pre-structured by the question (i.e. facilitators conduct an interview with open questions, or an evaluator observes a learning process).
Cooperative assessment or individually?
However, would all come to the front when participants would need to make their issues public? What can better be assessed individually or more discretely, should be addresses by individual methods.
Would all come to the front when participants would need to make their issues public? What can better be assessed individually or more discretely, could be addressed by individual methods. One example is the method A letter from the past.
Documentation of the Results
When choosing your method, you should also consider the form in which you need results. Language, pictures, photos… Many things are possible and they can complete a particular situation or also contrast it. It is important with most methods to formulate a question as concretely as possible.
As self-evaluation is crucial for independent learning, we also include methods her that help individuals to document learning outcomes, inspirations, and insights in an individual way.
Assessment and recognition in formal and non-formal learning in entrepreneurship education
An introduction into competency-based assessment and evaluation not only for entrepreneurship education by the project EntreComp 360, by Hazel Israel (Bantani Education) with Svanborg Rannveig Jónsdóttir and Ramón Martínez.
Learner-Led Assessment Approaches
In order to enable people to be proactive, autonomous and creative, they need to be trained to articulate and claim competence, referencing multimodal evidence, for wide ranging purposes to warrant their claims. In this sense, evaluation is also a training of "learner assessment literacy" and a process which ideally is involving the learners and addressing their personal abilities.
Of course, a democratic and participatory nonformal pedagogy must also proceed differently in judgment and evaluation than in school or university.
The learners themselves should know in advance (transparency) and have a decisive say (co-determination) in regards to
- what aspects they want to evaluate
- in what form,
- which meaning they assign to results,
- with whom they want to share which results.
Who assesses and evaluates?
Learners: Self and Peer
Learners draw from wide ranging evidence, data and reflection to evaluate. They might regularily assess performance, progress, organisational aspects, or the learning process and its dynamics. During longer learning events it's not uncommon that learners independently meet in small evaluation/reflection groups in absence of the facilitators.
Facilitator assessment can be of learning to report outcomes and impact. It can support learning to identify further learning gains, effective learning approaches and further learning needs and goals.
Learners might also be invited to assess facilitators' approaches and performance.
Civil society organisations, employers, field experts can involve a vakuable perspective. Inviting active contribution from others highlights the relevance and purpose of assessment to learners and builds clear links to the world of work and social engagement. For example, if learners create value for a specific group, it is this group who will be best placed to evaluate the success of the value created.
One crucial aspect of assessment in education and training is the recognition of learners’ gained competences. Or in other words – assessment and evaluation should lead to learners, and others, valuing their knowledge, skills, attitudes, values and learning progress.
Refer to Standards and Make Social Recognition Easier
Depending on where the learner needs recognition, it is worth to take care about words and aspects that can be helpful. A lot of social contexts use specific language and have specific expectations toward the learning outcome. Conscious language and choice might give a description or certificate more value.
European Skills/Competences, Qualifications and Occupations (ESCO)
ESCO offers a standardized terminology that includes skills, competences, qualifications and occupations. Its outcome for citizens and employees is to find the right terms for their formal and non-formal qualifications or for the job profiles they wish to develop. As well non-formal training provider may use the classifications for validation.
- European Skills, Competences, Qualifications and Occupations | ESCO
Key Competences for Lifelong Learning
They are a good and recognized reference point, especially in the European context. Specific competence frameworks were until 2022 elaborated for digital competence (DigComp), entrepreneurship (EntreComp), learning-to-learn (LifeComp) and sustainability (GreenComp).
A short description of these can be found here:
Citizenship, Human Rights
Tge EU was not yet elaborating a framework for citizenship competences. Tge entrepreneurship competence framework EntreComp includes some aspects - like proactivity, initiative and collaboration.
The ultimate European reference point is currently still the Council of Europe's Reference Framework of Competences for Democratic Culture (RFCDC). Originally created for democracy-related learning in schools, it is more and more applied in non-formal and lifelong learning.
- Council of Europe: Reference Framework of Competences for Democratic Culture
European Qualification Framework (EQR)
The EQF and the subordinated EU member state's national qualification frameworks are also worth paying attention to, in particular if the description is needed also for formal recognition. The EQF seeks to make the different national education systems more compatible and describes vocational profiles and educational outcome for a broad range of educational fields. Therefore the competence model is elaborated enough to offer a basis for certification and documentation of the gain of knowledge and skills. Methodologically member states agreed on the EQF in 2008, which is concretized through every member state with a national qualification framework (in example in Germany the Deutscher Qualifizierungsrahmen).  The framework provides 8 levels of proficiency from level one – “basic knowledge” – 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 "benchmarks for qualification levels across Europe and encourage the embedding of validation systems with formal qualifications system"
- European Qualification Framework | EQR
Inspiring Handbooks and Sources from the Community
Valued by You, Valued by Others
Improving the visibility of competences in Youthpass (and also in other contexts)
Recognizing Learning in Youth Exchange
Youth Work Service, Léargas' handbook complementary to YouthPASS, with suitable methods as well for evaluation and competence assessments without using the YouthPASS
Assessment and recognition in formal and non-formal learning in entrepreneurship education
An introduction not only for entrepreneurship education by the project EntreComp 360
The Learning Curve
A guide to evaluation for youth organizations
Practical tips and hands-on methods to make the most of the Youthpass process edieted by SALTO and Jugend für Europa
Competendo Portfolio Tool for Facilitators
Competency-related portfolio tool
Apps and Tools: Evaluation
Apps and Tools: Recognition, Assessment, Validation
Trainers appraisal platform of the International Youth Work Trainers Guild
Track developments of learners online
Share "learning badges" with your learners for every achievement in a learning process with help of a digital platform.
A research-based self-learning platform following the EntreComp model from Not a bad idea (Finland) and the Finnish education ministry.
- European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop): European guidelines for validating non‑formal and informal learning;; p. 59 ff.
- see as well: The European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop): European guidelines for validating non‑formal and informal learning; p. 19
- European Skills, Competences, Qualifications and Occupations (ESCO): https://ec.europa.eu/esco/home
- Europass: European QualificationFramework
- European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop) 2009: European guidelines for validating non‑formal and informal learning; p. 30
- Following the discussion of: European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop): European guidelines for validating non‑formal and informal learning; p. 44