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Number 05 (30.09.2002)
Subject SELF-EVALUATION:  How to evaluate non-formal personal competences
Conceptual outline
Contribution Project approach

This new Leonardo project, which started at the beginning of this year, picks up the subject of evaluation and accreditation of competences acquired in a non-formal way. The project aims at developing new methods of assessment and validation of competences acquired primarily outside formal training systems. It refers to the results of the former Leonardo project on 'tacit forms of key competences for changing employment opportunities'. Because the previous project has shown that individuals are mostly not aware of their non-formal competences, which can be often addressed as key competences, there is a need for appropriate methods particularly for self-evaluation on the one hand and for their integration within continuing vocational training (CVT) on the other hand. The project will develop methods for self-evaluation of non-formal competences as an integrative part of CVT measures on a transnational basis.

Basic philosophy

A main result of the previous project was the development of a generic approach to competences as a five-dimensional model (starfish-model), including the following dimensions: methodological competences, social competences, content-related competences, learning competences and competences with respect to attitudes and values. Against this background not only an accumulation of these competences could be identified but also their importance for individuals according to different personality clusters. As a preliminary conclusion from this project, CVT curricula have to be developed in a new way and have to refer much more to the personal prerequisites of the individuals and their equipment with competences.

The starting point of the project SELF-EVALUATION can be understood as a bottom-up approach. As many people and particularly women after a family phase are often not aware of the competences which they have acquired during their everyday life experience and within activities not considered as 'official' work, the project focuses on a life phase prior to application for a concrete job. It aims at enabling people to discover their own competences, to make them 'visible' and to make use of them with respect to new employment opportunities, including chances for self-employment. Self-evaluation means to support people in evaluating their own possible competences. Thus the project addresses particularly unemployed people and women returners with the aim of improving their personal employability by making them aware of their competences and thereby enabling them to find suitable employment. The innovative aspect of this project is the development of new methods and CVT curricula for self-evaluation of non-formal competences.

Work programme

Based on an inventory of existing or recently developed attempts for evaluation of non-formal personal competences the project will develop new methods and curricula models particularly for self-evaluation and for the use by small and medium enterprises. The proposed project will consist of five main work sections:

  • inventory, analysis and evaluation of existing approaches aiming at evaluating non-formal personal competences based on the starfish-model;
  • analysis of requirements towards such an evaluation instrument from the point of view of individuals and employers;
  • development of concrete methods and, simultaneously, of a curricula module that integrates evaluation methods;
  • practical realisation and test of evaluation methods and curricula modules in co-operation with social partners and CVT institutions;
  • dissemination activities on regional, national and European level particularly with respect to a contextualisation within the European debate on strategies for validation and certification of non-formal competences.
In methodological respect the project will combine characteristics of action research with methods of qualitative evaluation research. While action research can be characterised as participatory and self-reflective, initiating systematic learning processes, formative evaluation can be used as external corrective with respect to the reliability of the applied starfish-model.


First short national surveys have been written by the partners, more extensive national surveys and a common comparative report are expected in early autumn of this year. The preliminary outcomes of the project have been presented at ECER 2002 in the symposium on 'development of a European methodology for accreditation of prior experiential learning' and at a roundtable on the project.

Comments on the project are welcome. 

Contributor Wolfgang Hendrich, Institute for the Research on Social Life Chances (ISO) Cologne
Gerald Heidegger, Institute for Technical Vocational Education (BIAT), University of Flensburg
Coordinators of SELV-EVALUATION
Reference Info on SELV-EVALUATION
Descriptors D-CDO  D-CVT          
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Editor: Sabine Manning  © WIFO