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. There are several purposes for evaluation:
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.
Why debriefing from a learner's perspective?
Debriefing has particularly valuable benefits in activities in the context of education for democratic citizenship and human rights education (EDC/HRE):
- Debriefing is participatory learning. It addresses learners as self-responsible subjects capable of reflecting, inquiring, comparing, connecting, and planning their own learning experiences.
- Debriefing is necessary for sustainable learning. When scrutinising their learning experience and dealing with different perspectives in a group discussion, learners gain additional information, deepen understanding, develop further competences, and gain self-confidence.
- By becoming aware of their developmental needs and by recognising their own learning style, they gain knowledge and a critical understanding of themselves.
- Debriefing turns learners into owners and co-authors of their learning progress. Games require learners to get involved actively, deeply, and at times personally. Debriefing guides and enables them to turn these, and probably also future, experiences into a fruitful learning outcome. Debriefing thus develops autonomous learning skills.
Debriefing can foster learning in all three dimensions of democracy education:
- Learning about democracy: Which were the topics of the game-based learning activity?
- Debriefing fosters learning through democracy: Learners see (practical) meanings and consequences of what happened, of how they acted and reacted. It offers participants a structured and safe environment to practice democratic and free exchange.
- Debriefing fosters learning for democracy: Learning about the relationship with their real-world experiences, insight in social developments and inspiration for social action.
Assessment - in Between or at the End?
While debriefing is usually integrated in each method implementation or program unit, summative and formative evaluation activities are defined in an evaluation and assessment strategy of a whole process. They aim to collect data beyond a single unit and to allow reflection on more fundamental aspects (overall progress, competence gain, lessons learned, group process...).
Conducted at the end of a single learning unit with focus on reflection and assessment of what happened and was learned during this unit.
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.
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
Competence development and transfer
- 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
- Transferability of learning aspects to the real life
- Event management, logistics, problem-solving
- Cooperation within the facilitation team
Reflection/Debriefing Scheme for a Single Method
While it is imperative that summative evaluation end up with enough data to cover all of these analytic areas, we also need to consider an approach to evaluation for each individual method we use that follows a basic standard. This or similar suggestions have proven workable for many educators in non-formal education.
Block 1: Facts and Feelings
What did you feel about it?
(in regards to: yourself, group, topic, process..)
Block 2: Learning
What did you learn?
(in regards to: yourself; group & relationships developed during the activity; topics & concepts employed; the process..)
Block 3: Transfer
What can you conclude for you daily life?
What can you do (differently) in regards to the problem?
(connection to the real life of the learners)
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 or individual assessment?
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.
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.
Improving Quality of Evaluation and Assessment
More holistic learning designs need adequate evaluation, reflection and assessment approaches. The following table is showing typical progression paths. Of course, there is no one-size-fits-all approach, because reflection and evaluation must be proportionate to the other program components. Moreover, not every training, every intermediate step or every program can and must be evaluated in the same way. This makes it all the more important for facilitators not to stand still in terms of methodology and to continue developing their own evaluation skills.
- The more comprehensive the underlying competence concept is, the more precisely it can be evaluated or reflection can be stimulated.
- The more steps are integrated into the learning process that generate evidence and enable reflection, the more meaningful and relevant the results of the evaluation will be.
- The more diverse voices and perspectives are included, the more fair and relevant judgments and conclusions will be.
- A prerequisite for quality development is that the work of teachers also becomes part of the evaluation culture and that they see themselves as learners.
- A wealth of different observations and data supports the meaningfulness.
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.
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
The EU was not yet elaborating a framework for citizenship competences. The 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
Self-assessment tool created by the French Scout and Guides movement
Competendo Portfolio Tool for Facilitators
Competency-related portfolio tool
John Paul Lederach, Reina Neufeldt, Hal Culbertson,
Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies: Planning oriented on impact Download
Apps and Tools: Evaluation
Apps and Tools: Recognition, Competence Assessment
Several online tools support learners and educators in (self-)assessment. However, one should check their terms and conditions for storing and using personal data before using them in trainings.
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.
EaSY soft skills
A skill assessment online tool, model and method handbook
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