Learning outcomes are the backbone of the TQF, which comprises the eight levels defined in terms of knowledge, skills and competence and includes all types and levels of qualification and certification. Knowledge is defined as theoretical and/or factual, involving the comprehension of facts, principles, theories and practice. Skill is defined as utilisation of knowledge and problem-solving, which requires the ability to use logical, intuitive and creative thinking and dexterity, method, material, tools and instruments. Competence is defined as utilisation of knowledge and skills in an area of work and/or learning by taking responsibility and/or displaying autonomy, determination and satisfaction in learning requirements, consideration of social and moral issues, and responsibilities.
The TQF levels are defined without reference to any particular field of learning. All national qualifications developed by VQA ( VQA is responsible for national vocational qualifications based on occupational standards developed in parallel to existing formal education under the Ministry of National Education. ) are based on learning outcomes. Modules of the VET training programmes of the Ministry of National Education are all defined by learning outcomes, though these VET programmes have no separate qualification specifications defined by learning outcomes ( The modular system in VET is planned to be improved to include contributions from the enterprises better.). General education qualifications of the Ministry of National Education are not yet fully defined by learning outcomes. In higher education, some universities have identified the qualifications they offer by learning outcomes.
In addition to levels, the TQF uses qualification types and qualification categories. Qualification types are the main instrument through which qualifications will be allocated to the TQF levels, enabling the categorisation of different qualifications at the same level. Qualification types distinguish among qualifications that are at the same level but differ significantly in terms of their functions, learning outcomes, volume and/or orientations. Examples of qualification types are associate degree (academic or vocational) and level 5 vocational qualification certificate; vocational and technical high school diploma and skilled worker certificate, at level 4 (ETF, 2018).
Qualification type specifications define the common characteristics of qualifications within a given qualification type. They will become standard requirement for responsible bodies to describe their existing qualifications based on learning outcomes, and will form the basis for the design of new qualifications. Apart from qualification types presented in Annex 7 to the Turkish referencing report, it is anticipated that other qualification types will be developed over time to recognise achievements of learning in the workplace which are likely to be categorised as supplemental or for special purpose. To this end, the following qualification categories are specified for the TQF: principal qualifications, supplemental qualifications, unit qualifications and special purpose qualifications ( Principal qualifications reflect comprehensive sets of learning outcomes and convey a sense of completion of a learning process e.g. skilled worker certificate. Supplemental qualifications are awarded for learning achievement that is additional to previous principal qualification e.g. skilled instructor certificate in addition to skilled worker certificate. Unit qualifications provide recognition for the achievement of a coherent set of learning outcomes that forms part of the overall requirements for a principal qualification (usually associated with modular learning programmes). Special purpose qualifications are awarded for sets of learning outcomes that form a distinct, coherent achievement that may be used alone e.g. licence to operate or do specific work. ) (TQF document).
Vocational education and training (VET) is undergoing major reform, with substantial EU support. Since 1992, Turkey has worked on developing occupational standards to identify the needs of the labour market. These are being used as a basis for development of national vocational qualifications and for validating non-formal learning through accredited and authorised certification bodies. Occupational standards are used to define journeyman and master craftsman certificates issued by the Ministry of National Education (non-formal education) and for developing modules for school-based secondary vocational education.
Higher education has determined descriptors in terms of learning outcomes, as this approach is an essential part of the framework implementation. The descriptors are compatible with the EQF and the qualifications framework in the European higher education area. Competence is further divided into four components: autonomy and responsibility, learning to learn, field-specific competences, and social and communication skills, with an emphasis on foreign language competences and information communication technology.
The Ministry of National Education has launched curriculum reform in secondary education, for general and vocational and technical schools. Vocational curricula are modularised and the ministry has a database of more than 4 000 modules that are also used for the licensing and certification of adult learning. There are also plans to establish a national credit system for VET. Although curricula are advanced, most initial vocational qualifications are not yet fully learning outcome based. Modules based on learning outcomes are used for learning, but they are not separately assessed and often lack an assessment component. The higher education qualifications framework is a sub-framework within the TQF that is already functioning. National working groups for different fields of learning define common outcomes as a guideline for qualification and curriculum developers. A common register on the higher education qualifications framework website provides links to specific programmes ( http://tyyc.yok.gov.tr/).
The learning outcomes approach is seen as an essential part of the development of the TQF and is the stated intention of current reforms in all of education and training subsystems, supported by main stakeholders.
There has been common understanding for the levelling of the main general and higher education qualifications in Turkey since the beginning of the TQF development process. For instance, there has been no major discussion for the levelling of the bachelor diploma at level 6 or high school diploma at level 4. There has been some resistance towards the levelling of vocational qualifications (NVQs) provided through VNFIL at the same level as qualifications from a long education and training period. However, the levelling of these vocational qualifications is more transparent since all of them are defined in learning outcomes and the levelling decision is based on the actual comparison of the learning outcomes with the TQF level descriptors (European Commission and Cedefop, 2018).