Identification and Recognition of Learning Outcome

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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 identify and document processes and personal developments.

In particular civic engagement and volunteering are contributing to broad range of competences like the study and survey Job Bridge is showing. The most relevant competences in the opinion of volunteers are illustrated by the graphic below. However, the lack often recognition among learners and also among the society - for instance by fellow citizens, organizations, employers. In this sense, we as educators should spend some efforts in order to help learners to get their competencies recognized and also to show the social impact and value of Education for Democratic Citizenship and of civil engagement through our learners' recognition.

Most Relevant Competences Addressed through Volunteering


Source: Job-Bridge, p. 20 [2]

Recognition and Validation


  • Awareness and appreciation of competences
  • The basis is self-recognition, including "personal awareness and assessment of learning outcomes, and the ability to use these learning outcomes in other fields."[3]
  • Social recognition and political recognition are describing how others acknowledge and describe the competence of a learner.
  • Formal recognition is describing and comparing learning, often in form of certificates, licenses, or similar, issued by a formal or non-formal educational institution.

The EU education policy context uses also the term validation for measures of formal recognition.[4]:


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

A social goal of competence description is recognition. Educators help learners with certificates and a rich evaluation methodology to proof their abilities so that others recognize them and also to support them in recognizing their competences by themself.

Especially in non-formal education, educational providers and educators are not working for an authority which certifies in a comparable way like a formal learning provider. In consequence they are not bound to validation standards. Certificates of attendance, letters of recommendation or similar gain their credibility in the non-formal educational context especially through plausibility and through the credibility of the certifying organisation.

Since an individual learner needs in absence of formally recognized certificates to be able to explain their competences to others, it is necessary to dedicate attention in workshops and trainings to supporting self-reflection and self-recognition.

Attention needs also to be paid to a credible description on evidence base. The description of competence and learning outcome must go beyond formal grades in order to cover the broad aspects of competences. It should be helpful in the learners future and relevant for those third, whom learners need to proof their abilities and expertise.

Compatible Language of a Context

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 (European Skills, Competences, Qualifications and Occupations) 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

Key Competences for Lifelong Learning

A reference point in the EU context (more. Specific competence frameworks were until 2023 DigComp, EntreComp, LifeComp and GreenComp

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 European reference point is 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.

European Qualification Framework (EQR)

The European Qualification Framework (EQF) and the subordinated EU member state's national qualification frameworks seek to make the different national education systems more compatible and describe vocational profiles and educational outcome for a broad range of educational fields. The framework provides 8 levels of proficiency. The framework provides "benchmarks for qualification levels across Europe and encourage the embedding of validation systems with formal qualifications system"[5]

Other Competence-related Tools and Methods

Also other competence frameworks used in your organization or learning field can give orientation (like from OSCE, UNSECO, national curricula, or own frameworks).[6]

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.


Inspiring Handbooks and Sources from the Community

Apps and Tools: Recognition, Assessment, Validation

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.


  1. European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training, 2009: The shift to learning outcomes Policies and practices in Europe; p. 30
  2. P. Boivin, J. Baez: Job Bridge – Stocktaking report on the state-of-play of validation in the voluntary sector across the EU; Lifelong Learning Platform; Brussels; October 2019;
  3. YouthPass: About Recognition
  4. European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training, 2009: [ The shift to learning outcomes Policies and practices in Europe]; p. 15
  5. European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop) 2009: European guidelines for validating non‑formal and informal learning; p. 30
  6. Following the discussion of: European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop): European guidelines for validating non‑formal and informal learning; p. 44