Polish experts from the Educational Research Institute (IBE), as part of a project supporting the implementation of the Integrated Qualifications System, developed the concept of an online tool that helps in the accurate selection of methods for the validation of learning outcomes. The Catalogue has recently become available to users in English.
What is validation?
Validation in accordance with the definition adopted in the Polish Act on the Integrated Qualifications System is the process of checking whether a person seeking a qualification has the relevant knowledge, skills and social competences (i.e. learning outcomes) required for the chosen qualification, regardless of how they were acquired. In addition to the term validation, which appears in the European Council guidelines or CEDEFOP materials ( validation of non-formal and informal learning) in relation to this process we can come across various terms established in the systems already in place for a long time, such as in France: "validation of acquired experience" ( validation des acquis de l'expérience), in Scotland or the Netherlands - "recognition of prior learning" ; erkenning van verworven competenties), or in Portugal - "recognition, validation and certification of competences" (reconhecimento, validação e certificação de competências).
What does validation consist in?
In order to conduct a validation process, authorised bodies (in Poland awarding bodies) must prepare themselves properly. This is not an easy process. First of all, awarding bodies must take into account the validation requirements indicated in the description of the qualification. To ensure the quality of validation it is necessary to adapt the process, methods and conditions under which it is carried out to the specific characteristics of the qualification in question. It is also necessary to match validation methods to the way an individual has achieved learning outcomes. A wide range of methods can be used, and often the best solution is to use several complementary ones.
What is the Catalogue of Validation Methods? What do we find in it and who might find it useful?
The Catalogue of Validation Methods is a source of information on selected methods for validating learning outcomes used at all stages of validation and on selecting methods to make them accurate, reliable and adequate. The Catalogue presented here is not a new tool. It was created in 2018 as a product of a project that aimed to support central government administration and awarding bodies and assure the quality of qualifications awarded during the implementation of the Polish qualifications system. Recently, however, the Catalogue has been updated to include an English-language version, which makes it more accessible to a wide range of users. This tool is intended to help develop and improve the validation of learning outcomes acquired outside formal education. It is primarily intended for entities wishing to submit a qualification to the system or awarding bodies In addition, it may prove to be a helpful tool, for example, for professionals from countries that are starting to implement or improve their national qualifications systems.
How does the Catalogue of Validation Methods work?
On the Catalogue homepage the user will find the definition of basic concepts of a Catalogue, validation and the IQS, and will be able to watch a tutorial-animation on how to use the tool. In addition, using the interactive icons on the home page the user can learn about the characteristics of each validation method. Detailed descriptions of each method can also be found in the main menu at the top of the page. Under the Selecting Methods tab, you can learn about both the factors that determine and limit the choice of methods selected and the step-by-step process of selecting appropriate validation methods for a qualification. This information is presented in the form of clear infographics.
An interesting feature of the Catalogue is the possibility of comparing validation methods. We start by selecting the methods we are interested in, up to 4 at a time. The next step is to go to the overview, where in a clear way, on a single screen, we can learn about the brief characteristics of each method, the stages of validation at which the method is recommended, the range of learning outcomes that can be verified by this method, and the necessary resources that are required to use the method. Furthermore, the Catalogue suggests possibilities for combining the selected method with others.
The Catalogue of Validation Methods is a tool that can significantly facilitate the process of designing validation. The choice of appropriate methods has an impact on the outcome of the candidate assessment process and, indirectly, on the quality of the qualification awarded. If methods are inappropriately matched to learning outcomes, the results will not be reliable. Therefore, being able to compare methods as well as being aware of the limitations of some of them, can prevent many mistakes even at the stage of developing a qualification before it is included in the system.