Qualifications of validation practitioners in adult education institutions
Two main groups of practitioners are involved in the validation process of non-formal and informal learning in adult education institutions in Denmark: those who offer guidance for potential validation and those who carry out the validation assessment. The performance of validation practitioners has a large impact on the quality and reliability of the validation process. Thus competence development and professionalization of practitioners is essential. In the last decade, the Ministry of Education has carried out a number of initiatives for competence development of practitioners involved with validation in adult education.
Following Act 8 on ‘Validation of Prior Learning’, education institutions are responsible for assuring that validation practitioners have the adequate qualifications in relation to the education for which the assessment is aimed (Danish National Parliament, 2008). According to the Act, the education institutions are also responsible for the facilitation of validation practitioners’ attendance in the adequate courses and training.
Procedures and processes
The following two programmes for practitioners involved in validation processes at educational institutions are described in this case study:
- The national umbrella organization for adult education in Denmark (DAEA) offers a training programme for practitioners to be trained as ‘prior learning guides’. The learning outcomes of the DAEA course are formulated as enabling participants to:
- be familiar with the latest research on guidance and counselling in relation to the process of clarification and documentation of prior learning;
- be able to use tools for clarification and documentation of prior learning, including the tools developed by the Ministry of Education (e.g. ‘My Competence Portfolio’);
- teach and support others on how to work in a professional way as a ‘prior learning guide’ (‘sparring partner’) with regard to clarification and documentation of prior learning.
- In 2011, the National Knowledge Centre for Validation of Prior Learning (NVR) developed a ‘Diploma module’ for validation practitioners. The module is approved in the national education system (NQF level 6, 10 ECTS) and is offered at the university colleges. Admission requirements are that candidates have completed either a short-cycle or medium-cycle higher education and a minimum of 2 years of relevant professional experience. Applicants with equivalent backgrounds may get access through a validation process.The objectives of the course are for students to be able to undertake and develop tasks concerning validation through the integration of practical experience and theoretical knowledge in all phases of the validation process. At the end of the course, the practitioner is expected to have knowledge, skills and competences in:
- assessing and utilizing various validation methods and tools;
- assuring quality of validation processes in an institutional context;
- working in cooperation with practitioners from other education institutions and work places;
- reflecting on his/her own practice, based on relevant theory; and
- supporting clients in their personal and professional development.
The content of the course includes the following themes:
- validation of non-formal and informal learning as part of a national and international strategy for lifelong learning;
- the education systems and cooperation with the labour market;
- validation target groups and different individual perspectives, including adult living, career development and motivation;
- methods and tools for recognition, identification, documentation and validation of prior learning;
- quality assurance, validity, reliability and development work of validation processes; and
- theories of knowledge and learning.
Outcomes and ways forward
Due to the fact that validation practitioners in Denmark have many other tasks in addition to becoming validation practitioners, focussing on validation processes becomes difficult. Counsellors and assessors have demanded further education.
In 2010, the Ministry of Education made a national action plan on validation of prior learning with four initiatives crossing all relevant adult educational areas: mapping out the players in guidance and counselling, improving quality assurance and addressing the need to develop competences in practitioners.
Vocational education institutions providing AMU and adult education centres (VUC) all participate in thirteen local adult and continuing training centres (VEU-centres). The thirteen VEU centres were established in 2010 to provide a unified gateway to general adult education, vocational adult education and continuing training, with a greater focus on quality and effectiveness. The VEU-centres are also responsible for promoting RPL-programmes and improving programme quality in the participating education institutions. Since 2012, the continuing training centres have been actively involved in RVA initiatives by developing standards and common methods across institutions, as well as facilitating competence development for RVA practitioners.
CEDEFOP. 2014. European Inventory on Validation of Non-formal and Informal Learning 2014: Country report Denmark.http://libserver.cedefop.europa.eu/vetelib/2014/87054_DK.pdf.
Denmark. Ministry of Education 2008. Bekendtgørelse om Realkompetencevurdering. https://www.retsinformation.dk/forms/R0710.aspx?id=25521#Kap5 (Accessed 6 November 2015).
Denmark. Ministry of Education. My Competence Portfoliohttps://minkompetencemappe.dk/ (Accessed 4 November 2015).
Source: UNESCO UIL