To confirm that an individual has achieved specific learning outcomes (individual units / sets or the entire qualification), they must be verified.
Verification of learning outcomes is the process of confirming that an individual has met the requirements for a qualification or set of learning outcomes for which they are applying. Verification (from the ECVET perspective and in accordance with the ECVET Recommendation) are methods and processes leading to determining whether a given person has achieved certain learning outcomes, i.e. whether they have acquired knowledge, mastered skills and demonstrate social competences resulting from the description of learning outcomes in a given unit / set or qualification.
To carry out a reliable verification of learning outcomes, it is necessary to define the methods of such verification. The range of methods grew as we raised awareness that we can learn in different contexts, forms, times and places. The most important thing is that the methods are selected according to the learning outcomes to be tested.
The selection of verification methods is influenced by:
- how formulated, the learning outcomes are described (what operative verb is used, e.g. summarizes, assembles, analyzes, explains, prepares) and
- what the learning outcomes concern, the achievement of which will be checked during the verification (what activities, what thematic area, what knowledge, skills or social competences).
The basic principle in well methods is that practical methods are used for practical effects (e.g. preparing, assembling, making). It should be remembered that when checking the ability to perform a specific activity, you need to provide appropriate space and tools. However, for theoretical effects (e.g. lists, describes, characterizes) it is worth using methods involving oral expression, e.g. conversation. Yet another challenge is the verification of universal skills or social competences. Often then, innovative methods and a flexible approach are needed, perhaps involving experimental methods.
There is no single, universal and closed catalog of methods of verification of learning outcomes. The most frequently used methods are: observation in real conditions, observation in simulated conditions, test of practical skills, knowledge test, interview, debate, presentation, analysis of evidence and declarations. To confirm that an individual has achieved certain learning outcomes, it is usually possible to use more than one verification method.
Good selection of the verification method is extremely important, because a transparent and reliable process of verification of learning outcomes motivates students to learn and develop and facilitates the work of teachers and examiners.
The verification criteria are helpful in the verification. It is recommended that the formulated learning outcomes be supplemented with criteria of verification. They are used to clarify the effects. The criteria help to better understand a given learning outcome, but also a given set and the whole qualification. The criteria should clearly indicate what needs to be checked to conclude that the learning outcome has been achieved. They should indicate what is observable and / or measurable evidence of having specific knowledge, skills and social competences.
Criteria can relate to steps in a process or results of activities. They should be detailed enough to make it clear what is behind the effect – what type and scope of knowledge, skills and social competences are expected. However, they should not be too detailed so as not to hamper the understanding of the unit of learning outcomes and leave some room for flexibility. It is not possible to define in advance how many verification criteria should be assigned to a single learning outcome. This number depends on the complexity and scope of the set / qualification concerned.
Criteria are very helpful for learners by explaining exactly what they should learn and what will be required of them during verification. They are also a valuable source of information for those responsible for planning and carrying out the verification process.
The criteria are widely used in many countries. In Poland, they have been used in vocational education and training since 2019, when the basis for vocational education was modernized. Since the entry into force of the Act on the Integrated Qualifications System, they are also used in market qualifications included in the IQS. Examples of effects and criteria can be found in the qualification descriptions available in the Integrated Qualifications Register.
The use of verification criteria is recommended in learning and job mobility projects. Currently, the criteria are only used in some ECVET projects, as their application requires additional work and previous experience. Examples of learning outcomes detailed by verification criteria applied in learning mobility projects can be found in the publication: Learning outcomes and their verification in learning mobility projects. Catalog of examples (Foundation for the Development of the Education System, 2018).