Principle 3: Determining learning outcomes in a holistic way vs. fragmentation through learning outcome orientation

Learning outcomes
have from the very beginning of EQF implementation been considered crucial: If national educational systems shall be judged which differ considerably in terms of organisation, structure, and generally in the way how they deal with educational content, learning outcomes deliver the only criterion which makes systems comparable. This pragmatic issue, however, should not disguise that since years there has been a strong tendency to learning outcome orientation of educational key elements intrinsically motivated by needs of various national educational systems, EQF implementation has only strengthened this trend, not originally caused it.

The reason for this is certainly the growing request to make educational systems fit to agree to the needs of the labour market, and it is not a secret that the specific position of the demand side has influenced the way how requests were formulated, and how this – at least to a certain extent – has been mirrored in design and use of educational key elements. Following the argumentation above, there is no need to reduce work processes to lists of separately taking place operations, and the abilities to carry out work processes should analogously not be understood as learning outcomes to be introduced into occupational profiles, curricula, and assessment/quality assurance procedures without reflection on their systematic coherence.

In order to avoid fragmentation of learning outcomes (which in some educational contexts already has become a reality), and at the same time to make sure that changing requirements coming from outside educational systems can always smoothly be considered, it should therefore be reflected how learning outcomes can be described in a way which brings the available anchoring points of the EQF – knowledge, skills, and competence – in a systematic order which overcomes all ambiguities and delivers guarantees for the sustainability of occupational standards, curricula, assessment and quality assurance measures without the necessity to change these elements totally according to changes in the (mostly technically defined) state of the art: Learning outcomes should encompass the ability to adapt work processes to these changes.

This exceeds the mere appeal to leave input orientation of educational key elements in favour of learning outcome orientation. It is demanded that learning outcomes are determined in a holistic way, according to the model which is suggested for the understanding of the work process.


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