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Issue Performance assessment as a stimulus or barrier
Outline [AB:] Results of the study (Brown et al. 2002) suggest that there seems to be more interest in the process of accreditation and assessment, in terms of learning, than in formal qualification, including CATS.
Debate [JO:] Perhaps there is a kind of system error: in England NVQs are supposed to be able to be used for both purposes, accreditation or assessment and formal qualification; where perhaps it makes more sense to create a distinction between the two purposes, that means for example one would have evaluation and assessment aimed add on the one hand, to improve the learning process itself, and on the other hand perhaps have a kind of personal portfolio. 

[AB:] If those two are to be separated then you actually have to change the reward structure or continuing vocational education and training. The interesting thing was that people who went down to formal vocational qualification came out of that with a reluctance to engage in further lifelong learning. If you want to have support for lifelong learning then if two pretty big strand of vet, the work-related qualification system and formal education and training, is turning people off  it seems to me there is at least the start of a major problem there. For the sort of changes that are required you always have special projects, sort of funding and all those things to try and get people to engage in lifelong learning. So it is not as if it is occurring anyway; if you do nothing, if you donít change the system of support for lifelong learning then itís hard for that sort of process.

[LN:] Learning takes place in all kind of settings, learning is a tool; you donít change these things by assessing them.

[JO:] Well, you could change them, because by realising that it is not only a process innovation or technical process but also a learning process you could improve it; and thatís probably the reason why you want to do it, to have more support; so unless you have a system of recognition itís not possible to support this kind of learning process.

[AB:] Exactly! I disagree slightly that all that is required is APL (Assessment of Prior Learning) because I think we actually have got to take the individuals further and sometimes the organisation further as well. So you have to broaden the APLs; what is required is some input from specialists who understand the learning process in order to broaden that process out, so that people learn something about learning and development rather than just focus on small VET. If itís just seen as a process , if thatís what you want to do then you have got to be very weary of putting in heavy system. Certainly with regard to that is what Jens Bjørnåvold has been on about: that there are very few APL systems that would start out from the point of view of what the individual requires. There will be very few examples of APL that start from the indivudal or organisational perspective; most of them start from what is required in order to take you into formal education on the one hand or what is required to give you a work-based education on the other hand. I think that the interesting thing here was that you could move to something to support those people to engage in learning with others, helping other people to learn. It seems that it would be quite useful to help people in those respects in quite simple ways rather than saying what is required is training in terms of outcomes, of qualifications.

[RJS:] I think I understand your proposition and your proposal, but the solution should be to find different ways to make it possible for people to report on their learning. Ė A question: you said  that people are now in one system that has two or more ways to have recognition for learning, but then you said you would need to change the whole system.

[AB:] Jeroen, I thought, was saying that we do that within the current structureÖ

[JO:] I was saying that the current structure at least in the UK case is supposing that both aims could be reached with the same purpose, while others say that this is probably not possible in the current system. I think that they can be aligned but they are two very different objectives. One is focusing on the personal competence or development and some way of showing to others what you have developed; the other is focusing on organisational development, team development, process development, which also is a learning process. It could be worthwhile to recognise that it is a learning process, not just a redesign project or reprocessing. There are two ways to improve it: one way is to improve people to learn, the other is to improve the recognition of what has been learned in order to speed the process. But I must say that both objectives are very different, so perhaps they need different ways of handling them.

[AB:] If we consider the individual competence development Ė well you still have a formal VET system and still have work-related qualification for those who want them, but this third sort of leg has to be promoted as valuable. What struck me was that when people talked about accountability in terms of learning outcomes this third leg has much clearer learning outcomes than either of the other two, but if you define it in terms of qualification in many cases these people, like us, donít necessarily want others to report on what they have learned.

[EF:]  But there are differences in the aims of people, in their motivation.

[AB:] In some cases it may be that people want a vocational qualification because of their personal circumstances or what was happening in the company; they want to be able to move and to engage in the labour market. So itís not a sort of argument saying you donít want other things to be happening, but it did seem in this context that the one thing that is certain is that these companies will not exist in five years time if they carry on doing what they are doing now. There is a real imperative to learn and change, and it seems that all ideas are focusing on change but the problem is to try and crystallize it. Initially they thought this is a really good idea, we can get the support materials, we can get people doing this course, we then get lots of people to be change agents, people to produce change. But the more I thought about that the more it was clear that you would loose these people, the sort of dynamism associated with them, of you wanted to pursue this idea that you had to produce assignments, write everything upÖ

[RJS:] We have to think what is motivating people to learn, what is rewarding in that. I think at least there are three ways, three kinds of motivation. One is Ďlearn for yourselfí, individual development for the long term, because you can get another job or a better salary or a better position in the company; and here you perhaps need this national qualification because you have to prove it in another context or to another boss or to your personal manager. The other one is in relation to your organisation; you learn because this is good for your work and for your team and for your organisation as a total; we need quite different kinds of proof of learning there, the proof of learning is always relating to other people, having collected learning outcomes and having a way to show to other work mates that you learn without focusing too much on this learning as such. The third one is that people learn because they want to contribute to their profession, to their discipline, to their subject matter area, and that is what our motivation is mostly about because we want to make some contribution in that respect, we want to have some collective meaning around some ideas.

[PG:] The third reason you mentioned is probably on a higher level than the other two because it could be the synthesis of the first and second one.

[JO:] We are trying to learn in respect to the profession or the working process but not to have formal recognition. For instance in the case of these engineers it could be important to realise that what they are doing is also extending their professionality when they are not only good on the technical side but also as exchange agents and things like that.

[RJS:] In certain cases it is both for your own development and for improving your organisation and your profession, but in other cases it is the reverse: it is only for your organisation, or only for yourself, or only for your profession.

[PG:] Then perhaps the best practice model of accreditation of learning would integrate these different strands?

[RJS:] No, because in some practice they are in opposition: you donít even want to do it or to show it when you should do it for recognition; or you think ĎI am already a recognised person, I donít want to prove it'; or you have a hatred to your company: you donít want to improve it!

Reference  
Event FORUM: Evora Feb 02
Descriptors D-CVT  EP08  EP09        V17
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Editor: Sabine Manning  © WIFO