Validation of learning outcomes

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The overall aim of validation is to make visible and value the full range of an individual’s qualifications and competences, irrespective of where these have been acquired (i.e. be it in a formal, non-formal or informal setting). However, although it would definitely add to the value of these courses validation of the participants’ competences acquired in Grundtvig courses is not at all common practice.

Integrated validation of learning outcomes contributes both to the recognition of the professional development of the adult trainers involved (in this case as trainees) and to the quality of the courses. Validation of learning outcomes is also of particular importance in the informal and non-formal adult learning system in general, since this sector focuses on adult learners who, at a possibly long distance from their original formal qualifications, need evidence of their further development of skills and social and personal competences that are recognized in their home countries.

Validation of informal learning (VINFL) is quite a confusing term. It may mean recognition of prior learning (with the aim to recognize skills for qualification purposes) OR it may mean validating learning in not formalized leaning contexts, e.g. during work, in volunteering or mobility actions etc..

Especially in adult education the validation of key competences that are acquired in practical learning contexts are of major importance. Those competences, such as communication, cooperation, flexibility, autonomy, creativity etc. cannot be measured against externally set standards.

However, those personal, social and organizational competences are extremely important in our service economies.

In modern, competence oriented learning also the emotional/affective competence dimension has to be considered. However, this is not the case in qualification oriented validation based on EQF systems. Hence GINCO T&T promotes, parallel to formal validation, a specific validation system for social, personal and organisational skills and competences, the LEVEL5 system.

Validation is not a value in itself.

GINCO T&T promotes the idea that validation is embedded in a holistic learning offer, which means that the acquired competence(s) should already be considered in the planning process. Ideally the assessment and evidencing can be included in the learning activity, or better: validation can become a part of the learning activity.

GRUNDTVIG course organisers should have a profound idea of the different validation concepts and purposes. They should be able to describe a competence on different dimensions (knowledge, skills and attitudes) and on different levels.



GINCO Validation Guide  EN, DE, FR, IT, ES

The guidelines presented in it are the result of an ongoing exploration within the GINCO network of particularly pertinent approaches and systems to validate learning outcomes in in-service training courses.

There is an overwhelming amount of literature on validation of informal learning. The GINCO Validation Guide wraps up the main strands, highlights the different purposes, discusses some of the definition issues, presents different instruments, their advantages and draw backs.

The LEVEL5 mobility learning suite

The LEVEL5 learning suite relates to learning in mobility. There are other learning suites that cover other informal learning contexts and contents like volunteering, internship, learning on the job (of educational professionals) and customer relation management and inclusion etc.

Each mobility learning suite consists of 5 chapters:

  1. An introduction into the theme,
  2. A LEVEL5 presentation,
  3. A manual how to integrate LEVEL5 in an informal learning activity
  4. An inventory of reference systems for relevant competences in the context
  5. An set of informal learning patterns to foster competence development in the context,

The LEVEL5 manual

The LEVEL5 manual is a set of offline forms that cover all relevant steps for the validation with this approach. Once filled they can be simply copied and pasted into the LEVEL5 software.

With the data LEVEL5 certificates will be automatically generated as PDF files with the LEVEL5 software.

For those providers who want to describe their informal/non-formal learning projects in a more appealing way also a “narrative project description pattern” is included.

Eventually another form is included to report on the experiences made with the integration of this validation system in the not-formal learning activities.


COMPASS is a specific  tool for the definition and documentation of Intercultural-Competencies acquired in European Mobility Projects. In 5 steps, the partners involved in a mobility project (sending organisation, mobility participants and hosting organisation) can align the curricula and learning objectives in a dialogue and visualise the progress of competence gained abroad. This is based on the COMPASS Competence-Chart. With the help of the various “Can Descriptions“ (EN, DE, FR, ES, DK, FI) allocated to the various fields of operation, competence profiles and their changes can be shown.

COMPASS-User Manual: The user-manual is available as well as pdf-file, as CD-Rom or as a brochure, describing the COMPASS-steps and offering an introduction on how to use the functions of the COMPASS-database in order to create competence-profiles. 

Further reading

Ginco list 

Grundtvig Mobility. How to organize training courses for an international audience. Chapter on Course Recognition, page 14

The VITA project on validating social, personal and organisational competences

The VITA needs analysis

EC information site on Validation of non-formal and informal learning

European Inventory 2010

The overall situation as regards validation of non-formal and informal learning in Europe in 2010 is presented in the following synthesis report. An executive summary of this report is also available. Country studies The 2010 update of the European Inventory covers developments in 32 countries


European guidelines for validating non-formal and informal learning



Recommended activities

GINCO documents

European docu­ments and links

GINCO validation guidelines


SEALLL Manual (p. 1 – 59) 


GINCO Course Evaluation Grid




LEVEL5 theory input







Reading on


learning theory and validation






Planning VINFL 

LEVEL5 learning suite on mobility



Chapter 1: Introduction to mobility learning

Action 1: discuss the outcomes of the survey with your colleagues. Add your comments in the my-VITA blog



Chapter 2: LEVEL5

Reading and discussing. Additional materials and flyer



Chapter 3: How to integrate LEVEL5 in a learning activity

Action 2: Try it out and convert the PDC circle to your learning activity and try to plan the validation

Action 3: Have a look at the EDUCCKATE project on my-VITA and learn how it was integrated in internships



Chapter 4: reference systems

Take out 1 competence relevant in your course and contextualize the reference systems



Chapter 5: informal learning patterns ???

Try to create 2 informal learning patterns in your context

The LEVEL5 Manual




Step 1: Describe the learning project




Step 2: Select competences from an inventory and refine them




Step 3: Contextualise the competences in reference systems




Step 4; Assess the competence developments




Step 5: Rate the competence developments and describe them in terms of learning outcomes




tool for the definition and documentation of Intercultural Competences ???

Reading and applying compass descriptors as indicators in mobility settings.

My-VITA website


Set up your profile and develop your EUROPASS. Insert other evidences of social & personal competences

To access page register with don’t forget to give reasons why you want to register (this is to avoid spamming of the e-portfolio)

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