Cedefop's European handbook on learning outcomes featured prominently during the 4th policy learning forum (PLF) on learning outcomes in VET, a hybrid event organised in Thessaloniki and online, which attracted 90 experts and stakeholders from 30 countries.

The focus of the forum was on the application of learning outcomes for curriculum development, taking into account results of recent Cedefop studies on comparing VET qualifications and the future of VET.

The handbook's revised edition provides practical guidance based on mutual learning and systematic research on defining, writing and applying learning outcomes.
Opening the event, Cedefop Deputy Director Mara Brugia reflected on the Agency's work in the area of learning outcomes during the last 15 years. 'Learning outcomes – she said – operating at the interface of VET, supply and demand side, and articulating how the demands of the labour market can be translated into national VET programmes and curricula, stand out as α key instrument for coordinating and governing VET.'

Cedefop's Anastasia Pouliou presented the second edition of the European handbook as well as the Agency's work on the review and renewal of qualifications and the important role of transversal skills and competences, noting that 'the learning process can rarely be fully predicted and described; learning outcomes must remain open to the explorative.'

Dilemmas and possibilities

The dilemmas and possibilities of learning outcomes based national VET curricula were the topic of a panel discussion with international participants, moderated by Loukas Zahilas, Cedefop head of department of VET and qualifications.

Some of the key issues raised and messages highlighted by the participants included:

  • The need for capacity building and continuous exchange as linear or automatic implementation of learning approach in curricula cannot be assumed.
  • How much teacher autonomy or discretion is allowed at national level?
  • What type of assessment is necessary to capture actual learning outcomes?
  • How responsive or flexible curricula can be to ensure consistency and relevance of the approach?

Mr Zahilas said that learning outcomes are often used as a way to manage regional and local practices centrally, strengthening the accountability of schools and teachers, and others see them as a way to put learners at the centre and give teachers and students tools for active and open learning.

Tatjana Babrauskiene, representing Workers’ Group of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), contributed to the discussion by using the GPS metaphor, where learning outcomes can act as a navigator for students' educational pathways, while Sabine Tritscher-Archan, SMEunited said: ‘We cannot live without learning outcomes. It is all about trust’.

More reading

The forum's presentations here.