According to the guidelines of CEDEFOP, the council’s recommendations for validation, and appropriate practical implementation (CEDEFOP, 2009; BBT, 2010; European Council 2012), as a validation methodology five phases can be established that will lead to the identification and evaluation of informally and non-formally acquired competences. The core of the four phases (European Council, 2012) is completed by a preceding information phase, including counseling and mentoring.
Phase 1: Information, Counselling and Mentoring
The goal of this phase is to enable interested individuals to get information about the possibilities to have their professional competences and their learning outcomes validated. Furthermore, they receive the necessary information for the course of the procedure and they can profit from counselling for the whole process. Information needs to be provided on the whole procedure of validation – on timelines, costs, forms and presentation of evidence of learning outcomes, quality and standards, assessment, support available and last but not least also the appeal procedure. Very important for this phase is the issue of how to “market” the validation procedure in the sense of how to reach the possible candidates.
Phase 2: Identification and Balancing
Identification and balancing form the basis of the process of validating non-formal and informal learning. In this phase the individual´s competencies and learning outcomes are recorded and made visible. (CEDEFOP, 2009, 18)
Candidates identify and analyze their individual and professional competences and their educational background. These are being documented e.g. in a portfolio that includes data, facts and proof pertaining to a certain professional qualification profile. Included here are formal education and non-formal education as well as informal learning.
Phase 3: Documentation and Assessment
Documentation is of course part of the whole process of validation. Nevertheless, a structured documentation is the outcome of the phase of identification and balancing and the basis for the assessment. Experts appraise the documentation, e.g. as portfolio, interview the candidate and provide an assessment at the end. On the one hand, they check if the submitted proofs are relevant, reliable and significant and on the other hand, they determine if and how the scope and the level of the professional competence and the educational background fulfil the requirements for the profession or degree programme. The assessment is being made from a holistic point of view and is suitable for adults.
Additional Qualification Measures
Between Phase 3 “Documentation and Assessment and Phase 4 “Validation” is a possible side step that can be very important. Depending on the relevance and the significance of individual´s documentation there can be made recommendations for additional qualification measures an individual needs to follow (see e.g. French Procedure Mamoune/Ribaud, 2014).
Phase 4: Validation
The institution responsible for validation decides, based on the assessment of the experts, which professional competences exist and which requirements are fulfilled and then issues a certificate of learning achievement. Furthermore, the institution decides which additional performances in the area of education must be delivered in order for the candidate to obtain the desired degree or certificate.
Phase 5: Certification
The certification is being issued pertaining to the requirements and standards of the profession or degree programme. The chambers or other certifying institutions issue a report or certify the requirements for the profession or degree programme.
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How are validation procedures already implemented in Higher Education? Read more about experiences in Chester (UK) and Brest (FR) here.