Learning outcomes in practice

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The application of the learning outcomes approach as required within EQF and ECVET raises the question of impact and requirements on the vocational education and training praxis and therefore on teachers, trainers and tutors within VET providers, VET schools and industry. All in all the introduction of the learning outcomes approach needs in most cases to be considered as a shift in teaching and training paradigms from input to outcome orientation.

Describing qualifications in terms of learning outcomes as the basic requirement

This means first of all the description of all formal qualifications and learning offers in terms of learning outcomes a learner has achieved after completion of a learning process. Within the EQF those are described in terms of knowledge, skills and competences. Occupational standards which help to define an occupation, job or task need to be structured along fields of activities and/or work processes. Curricula will always be described from the perspective of the learner and not from the perspective of the teacher. Nonetheless, they refer to qualifications respectively to an average learner and not to individual learners.

A shift in thinking within teaching and training

But adapting to the learning outcomes approach is not a formal process but means first and foremost to adapt teaching and training praxis to the new requirements. Education explicitly has to target the development of knowledge, skills and competences as they are described in the related standards and may not remain at the level of knowledge or skills as often the case within input oriented systems. The application and the transferability of the abilities has to be put into the focus with methods such as simulations, training on the job, problem based learning and project work in order to reach the level of competence within formal learning settings. Dependent on the teaching and training praxis this requires a number of significant changes or a shift of perspective only.

Assessment needs to relate back to the defined learning outcomes

Just as within teaching and training also assessment needs to be clearly related to the previously defined learning outcomes. Also here all the different descriptors – knowledge, skills and competence – need to be taken into account when developing assessment methods and tests. It should be avoided to restrict assessment within the learning outcomes orientation to knowledge only and to forget about skills and competences. Skills and competences often require the application of special testing situations also here it depends on the assessment praxis if and what kind of changes are necessary in order to apply learning outcomes orientation in praxis.

All this implies challenges but also major opportunities in terms of quality and attractiveness of vocational education and training!

Further information on the learning outcomes approach in praxis

In order to learn more about the practical implementation and impact of the learning outcomes approach on your daily VET praxis please check the euVETsupport users area and the euVETsupport guideline on the practical implementation of the learning outcomes approach (Language versions: EN / DE / NL / IT / ES / FR).