02 SES 12 A, Recent Developments in Assessment in VET
Recognition of prior learning (RPL) has appeared in recent decades as an educational policy area and a policy concept “within the European Union, across countries in Europe and beyond” (Andersson, Fejes & Sandberg, 2013, p. 405). According to these authors, RPL process varies in practices, contexts, concepts and conceptions.
RPL is one of the five priority areas of the Action Plan on Adult Learning (Commission of the European Communities, 2007). Many European countries have been developing or expanding systems of validation of non-formal and informal learning (Eurydice, 2011). RPL is a recent educational practice in Portugal, the fruit of a governmental initiative, belonging to a considerable amount of policies devoted to lifelong learning. In 2001, a nationwide network of RPL centers was created, which remains at present.
The RPL system is organized differently in each European country (Cedefop, 2009). In Europe, RPL is a multispeed process because countries are at different stages of practical implementation and overall acceptance. Some countries, for example Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Norway and Portugal, use RPL as an integrated part of their qualifications systems (Bjørnåvold & Le Mouillour, 2009).
In Portugal, RPL has the aim to get access to basic and/or secondary school level of certification. In some RPL centers, the RPL process allows a double certification, a scholar certification and a vocational certification (level 2 or level 4), according to the National Qualifications Framework.
This process, in Portugal, is implemented mainly by trainers and by adult educators who are accompanying adults with a low level of schooling throughout the process and are playing a mediation and support role. Over the past years, these adult educators have been named in several ways. Until 2013 they were named RVC professionals (Recognition and Validation of Competences professionals). After 2014 these adult educators changed the name to technicians of guidance, recognition and validation of competences. The described research focuses on this category of adult educators, who, at the time when the interviews were done, were called RVC professionals, and who were, according to Barros (2013), “the only elements on the team who perform a role of adult educators” (p. 434).
In Europe, the implementation of RPL mobilizes a diversity of tools and methods for assessing learning outcomes (Bjørnåvold & Le Mouillour, 2009). In Portugal, the assessment in RPL is present in two phases (Cavaco, 2012). Firstly, in the recognition phase, the adult educator helps adults to explore their life experiences, in order to highlight the learning referred to the key competences referential. During this phase, these professionals give guidelines to adults on how to write and structure their life histories, which should comprise learning from different contexts. Secondly, in the validation phase, the adult educator compares the prior learning evidenced in life histories with the elements of the key competences referential. In this phase the adult educator and trainers intervene. According to Farzad and Paivandi (2000), the recognition should end in a validation decision in order to formalize the process.
This paper will explore the perceptions of adult educators about the assessment process in RPL, in Portugal. The data used are from research integrated in a PhD program I’m attending in Education. From a theoretical point of view, this research uses elements from adult education and sociology of education. The main aim of this research is to understand the way adult educators view their role in the assessment process in RPL. This study intends to answer the questions: How do adult educators see the assessment in RPL process? How do adult educators invest themselves in the role of assessors? How does the assessment take place in RPL processes?
Afonso, N. (2005). Investigação naturalista em Educação. Um guia prático e crítico [Naturalist research in Education. A practical and critic guide]. Porto: Asa Editores. Andersson, P., Fejes, A. & Sandberg, F. (2013). Introducing research on recognition of prior learning. International Journal of Lifelong Education, 32(4), 405–411. Bardin, L. (1995). Análise de conteúdo [Content analysis]. Lisboa: Edições 70. Barros, R. (2013). The Portuguese case of RPL new practices and new adult educators: some tensions and ambivalences in the framework of new public policies. International Journal of Lifelong Education, 32(4), 430–446. Bjørnåvold, J. & Le Mouillour, I. (2009). Learning outcomes in validation and credit systems. European Journal of Vocational Training, 48(3), 27-47. Cavaco, C. (2009). Adultos pouco escolarizados. Políticas e práticas de formação. [Adults with low level of schooling. Policies and practices of training]. Lisboa: Educa. Cavaco, C. (2012). Complexidade da avaliação de adquiridos experienciais [Complexity of the assessment in RPL]. In M. P. Alves & J. C. Morgado (Orgs.), Avaliação em educação: políticas, processos e práticas [Assessment in Education: policies, processes and practices] (pp. 185 - 213). Santo Tirso: De Facto Editores. Cedefop (2009). Lignes directrices européennes pour la validation des acquis non formels et informels. Luxembourg: Office des publications de l’Union Européenne. Commission of the European Communities (2007). Action Plan on Adult Learning: It is always a good time to learn. Brussels: Communication of the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee, the Committee of the Regions. Creswell, J. W. (2007). Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five approaches (2nd edition). Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications. Eurydice (2011). Adults in formal education: Policies and practice in Europe. Brussels: Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency. Farzad, M. & Paivandi, S. (2000). Reconnaissance et validation des acquis en formation. Paris: Anthropos. Giorgi, A. (1997). De la méthode phénoménologique utilisée comme mode de recherche qualitative en sciences humaines: théorie, pratique et évaluation. In J. Poupart et al. (Orgs.), La recherche qualitative. Enjeux épistémologiques et méthodologiques (pp. 341-364). Montréal: Gaëtan Morin éditeur. Vala, J. (2003). A análise de conteúdo [The content analysis]. In A. S. Silva & J. M. Pinto (Orgs.), Metodologia das ciências sociais [Methodology of Social Science] (pp. 101-128). Porto: Edições Afrontamento. Vermersch, P. (1991). L’entretien d’explicitation dans la formation expérientielle organisée. In B. Courtois & G. Pineau (Coords.). La formation expérientielle des adultes (pp 271-284). Paris: La Documentation Française.
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