Validation procedures in Europe and worldwide differ due to different political, economic, legal circumstances and to different national and regional strategies (UNESCO, 2013; European Commission/CEDEFOP/ICFI, 2014). Nevertheless, in the development of validation procedures common features can be seen:
The European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (CEDEFOP) has monitored the development of validation procedures of non-formal and informal learning in Europe for more than 15 years. CEDEFOP (2009) develops guidelines and recommendations for validation based on an intensified exchange of experiences of 22 countries in Europe.
These European guidelines are relevant for the basic structure of validation. They stipulate an equal right for access to validation for everyone. In addition, it is important to always keep in mind that in the course of a validation procedure the privacy and the rights of the individual must be respected and any information collected for a validation procedure must not be used for other purposes without the individual’s consent. According to the guidelines, the institutions and procedures must be clear and individual tasks must be assigned for a successful implementation of validation procedures. Three distinct stages of validation procedures are identified (CEDEFOP, 2009, 55ff.):
- Orienting the individual
- Assessing the individual
- Auditing the process
Ad 1) The first stage focuses on the orientation of the individual, including production and distribution of knowledge, interaction between the individual and advisors or counsellors, and other important actors. CEDEFOP (2009, p. 56) states:
“Orientation is never complete but it always reaches a significant point when the activity begins to focus on assessing the individual’s actual learning.”
Ad 2) The second stage focuses on the assessment of the individual covering all aspects of the process of assessment, from requirements and standards, to the identification of learning, the search for evidence until organizing it for assessment. The monitoring of the effects of the validation on the individual is emphasized for this stage.
Ad 3) The third stage focuses on the quality of the validation process with regard to orientation (stage 1) and assessment (stage 2) and its efficiency and effectiveness, involving an external and independent review of these two stages and has nothing to do with the learning of the candidate.
Besides the educational and occupational standards that need to be taken into consideration for the process of validation process-based standards are essential. They include (CEDEFOP, 2009, 34):
“- assessment or evaluation standards (such as criteria defining types of qualifications, syllabi for qualifications, assessor qualifications);
– validation standards (such as rules for methodologies, jury practice, availability of information, advice and guidance);
– certification standards (such as criteria for awarding a certificate, (legal) definition of who can make awards, regulation practice).”
These standards need to be agreed upon by the relevant stakeholders, they need to be visible, reviewed and further developed on a regular basis. Hence, they form the foundation for quality and trust within the validation methodology.
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