Enhancing Skills Recognition and Personalized Learning: Insights from OnTheMIC Project

The use of assessment tools to identify learners’ non-formal and informal skills can be a valuable way to help teachers better understand learners’ strengths and areas for improvement. The OnTheMIC project will also provide tools that can be used to improve non-formal and informal skills while promoting their recognition and learning. Furthermore, this approach can help uncover hidden talents and skills that learners may not have had the opportunity to showcase in a classroom setting. By recognizing and validating these skills, learners can gain more confidence in their abilities and potentially pursue further learning or employment opportunities that align with their strengths.

In our research, we employed both desk research and empirical research methods. During the desk research phase, we reviewed the latest scientific articles and studies related to upskilling and reskilling. Based on the combined information, we developed a questionnaire for our survey, which was conducted in Germany, Iceland, Finland, and Belgium. We collaborated with teachers from partner organizations in each of these countries, leveraging their expertise and experience working with learners to create tools that are relevant to their needs.

The survey conducted with teachers yielded results indicating that the lack of formal skills, self-engagement, as well as informal skills and language knowledge, are the main reasons for unemployment among participants in an unspecified context.

The summary of the answers indicates that all pedagogues in our survey utilize self-assessment tests. The organizations involved have extensive experience with these tests, and results are typically communicated through personal or group meetings. However, it is unclear why, in some cases, participants do not receive a summary of their results. The survey reveals that self-assessment tests are conducted at the beginning of the course in 57% of classes. Additionally, the test is retaken during the course in 62% of cases, indicating that self-assessment tools are common in vocational education and training (VET) schools across the European Union.

The graph below presents the results of a survey that asked teachers whether they believed self-assessment tests help learners gain a better understanding of their talents and abilities. According to the graph, most teachers believe that self-assessment tests do indeed help learners in this regard. However, there is also a percentage of respondents expressing some level of uncertainty about the benefits of self-assessment tests.

Picture 1: Participants Get a Better Picture of Themselves via Self-assessment

The diagram illustrates that no respondents chose the first two options to the question, indicating that participants generally perceive some value in self-assessment tests, even if they are not entirely convinced of their efficacy.

The diagram below (Picture 2: Using the Results from Self-assessment for Designing Learning Areas) shows that teachers who use self-assessment tests in their lectures utilize the information from these tests. Pedagogues use this data to tailor the learning areas for their participants, resulting in a more customized learning experience.

Picture 2: Using the Results from Self-assessment for Designing Learning Areas

The survey provided insights into non-formal and informal skill learning and recognition. Respondents identified the main reasons for the lack of non-formal skills as a lack of guidance, self-confidence, interest, motivation, and activities. Similarly, the lack of education, motivation/interest, and activities were identified as the top reasons for the lack of informal skills. Consequently, activities are incorporated into the classes to help learners improve their skills. After the courses, teachers often provide certificates to learners, highlighting the importance of recognizing and validating skill learning efforts.

Skills obtained from hobbies are also significant but may remain hidden within the classroom. In 60% of cases, teachers expressed an interest in knowing their learners’ hobbies. Understanding learners’ hobbies and interests can be a valuable tool for teachers in enhancing the learning experience. By aligning lessons and activities with learners’ interests and motivations outside the classroom, teachers can create a more engaging and personalized learning environment. The diagram below (Picture 3: Knowledge of Learners’ Professionalism in Hobbies) depicts teachers’ desire to know the level of professionalism their learners possess in their hobbies.

Picture 3: Knowledge of Learners’ Professionalism in Hobbies

Teachers can leverage knowledge of learners’ hobbies to boost motivation, ultimately leading to better learning outcomes. Therefore, educators should recognize the value of understanding learners’ hobbies and interests and take steps to incorporate this knowledge into their teaching practices.

In summary, the involvement of multiple countries in our research helps identify common challenges and opportunities for upskilling and reskilling, as well as cultural and contextual differences that need to be considered in the project’s development.

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