VNIL Methods

From existing European practices in validation procedures for identification, documentation and validation of non-formal and informal learning eight methods of assessment can be extracted (CEDEFOP, 2009, 60-63):


In debates, candidates can show their capacity to sustain a considered argument and demonstrate depth of adequate knowledge of a subject. In a debate they can also demonstrate their communication and social skills.

Declarative methods

In writing candidates make an evidence-based statement about their learning against preset criteria designed to help them be evaluative. Central here is the ability to use critical reflection. Declarative methods are used in conjunction with other methods that have more independent evaluation built in.


Interviews may be applied in areas where judgement and values are important. They are often accompanied by other methods for a more complete assessment of a candidate, allowing commentary and clarification.


Candidate’s behavior is observed and assessed by a third party in a particular setting, e.g. in his or her professional practice. The Assessment criteria are set in advance.

Portfolio method

A portfolio is an organized and structured collection of materials that presents and verifies skills and knowledge acquired through experience. The collection of evidence is provided by the candidate. A portfolio might include documents such as résumés, performance appraisals, references, photographs, drawings. In digital portfolios text, audio, graphic and video‑based presentation of information can be combined. Portfolios need some counseling and mediation by a tutor.


With a presentation candidates show their ability to structure and reduce complex information and to perform in front of experts or assessors. Communicative and social skills are relevant here too.
Simulation and evidence extracted from work
In the center of this method is the performance of the candidate in a structured situation modelled on real life, e.g. as a role play. The method allows for testing complex interacting skill sets. Clear assessment criteria are required.

Tests and examinations

The candidate responds to preset questions orally or in writing. A test provides direct assessment of specific knowledge and skills. An advantage of tests is that they are easier to prepare, and they are often understood as more objective. A disadvantage is that the content that can be tested is limited.

Frequency and Acceptance of Methods

Looking at the procedure of validation of non-formal and informal learning as whole, the portfolio method is most often used, followed by interviews, tests and examinations. (European Commission/CEDEFOP/ICFI, 2014)
With regard to the phase of Identification and Balancing of non-formal and informal learning interviews, portfolios and declarative methods are the most frequently accepted methods. For Documentation the portfolio method is most accepted, followed by declarative methods, and simulations and evidence extracted from work. For Assessment, tests and examinations become the most frequently accepted methods, followed by simulations and evidence extracted from work, observations and interviews.

If you want read more, please download the full article: VALERU_WP1.1_Methodology

Author: Isabell Grundschober

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