Toward Your Concept for the Description of Learning Outcome

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Knowledge skills and competences 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. Learning outcome has obviously another nature than in a lot of formal educational institutions and programs.

The impact of a training or seminar approves in practice - often far long after our work as facilitators is done. Will someone involve? Will she activate the competences and resources she has for societal change? Will he change his attitude to participation? In a lot of traditional education we have exams at the end, that approve if somebody incorporated enough knowledge. But involvement in society is an ongoing process. Therefore facilitators may observe or measure a development, they may measure the degree of knowledge and to some extent as well, how able a person is to use his or her skills.

Documentation and Assessment during Learning Processes

Facilitators can encourage using regular assessment tools by the learners to keep their learning outcomes updated and written.

Portfolio tools are here a good option for self-organized documentation and reflection.

Facilitators might document advancements and discuss these with learners regularily.

Gain Information through Tools and Instruments

During and after your learning process, these tools and instruments might help you to gain the necessary information:

Within your process:

  • Debate,
  • Declarative methods,
  • Interviews,
  • Observation,
  • Portfolio method,
  • Learning diary
  • Presentation,
  • Simulation
  • Evidence extracted from (project)work,
  • Tests and examinations[1]

At the end of a learning process may stand....

  • Competence description along standards for programs or learning events
  • Certificates for participation
  • Diplomas
  • Qualified competence description
  • A completed portfolio
  • Learning diary[2]

Include and Encourage Learners: Self-recognition

Following the idea of empowerment the goal of facilitation is to help learners to assess and evaluate their competences, as well as to learn how to plan their further competence development. The interaction between learner, peers and facilitator leads here in the best way to a balanced picture between self-perception and external perception. Furthermore, the knowledge of a facilitator regarding instruments or how to describe competences can and should be transferred. In this sense, the challenge is to overcome the role of a teacher judging the development of learners coming to a cooperative, descriptive and negotiating role.

Tools and Handbooks

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 need to be highlightened. 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.[3]

  • European Skills, Competences, Qualifications and Occupations | ESCO

Key Competencies for Lifelong Learning

They are a good and recognized reference point, especially in the European context. A short description of these can be found here:

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. [4]. Methodologically member states agreed on the EQF in 2008, which is concretized through every member state with a national qualification framework. [5] 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"[6] 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.[7]

  • European Qualification Framework | EQR

Other Competence Frameworks

Also other competence frameworks used in your organization or learning field can give orientation (like from OSCE, UNSECO, national curricula, or own frameworks).[8]

These European Instruments might also be helpful:


  1. European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop): European guidelines for validating non‑formal and informal learning;; p. 59 ff.
  2. see as well: The European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop): European guidelines for validating non‑formal and informal learning; p. 19
  3. European Skills, Competences, Qualifications and Occupations (ESCO):
  4. European Commission: Learning Opportunities and Qualifications in Europe
  6. European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop) 2009: European guidelines for validating non‑formal and informal learning; p. 30
  7. Deutscher Qualifizierungsrahmen:
  8. Following the discussion of: European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop): European guidelines for validating non‑formal and informal learning; p. 44

Nils-Eyk Zimmermann

Nils-Eyk Zimmermann

Editor of Competendo. Coordinator of the project DIGIT-AL Digital Transformation in Adult Learning for Active Citizenship. Secretary of the DARE network. Topics: active citizenship, civil society, digital transformation, non-formal and lifelong learning, capacity building. Blogs here: Blog: Civil Resilience. Email:

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