TRANSVAL-EU at the Research Conference in Poland “Outside the Box”

On 13 of June 2023 in Warsaw, Poland, Institute of Educational Research (IBE) held (both online and in person) the scientific conference “Outside the Box – informal adult learning in a research perspective. Trends, challenges, opportunities”.

The conference was dedicated to the ways adults learn and the impact of informal learning has on society. It was a chance for representatives of academic institutions, researchers, stakeholders and other people interested in the topic to discuss and exchange ideas on various aspects of non-formal and informal learning.

To quote the conference organisers: “Most adult Poles acquire new knowledge and develop skills through activities carried out outside educational institutions – often in a casual, unstructured manner. This type of learning – informal learning – is a fascinating phenomenon, giving the learner a great deal of freedom, but at the same time difficult to capture in research. Thus, although the percentage of adults learning in this way is, according to various studies, higher than that of participants in non-formal and formal education, informal learning is less frequently addressed in research and academic analysis than other forms.”

The event focused on:

  • theoretical and methodological challenges of studying the phenomenon of informal learning,
  • factors that foster and constrain informal learning,
  • contexts/circumstances of undertaking informal learning and the benefits it offers to adults.

Numerous lectures and discussions, presentations and research findings were shared during the course of over eight hours. In this summary we will focus on two that were specifically concerned transversal competences (and, coincidently, were delivered by the participants of the TRANSVAL-EU project).

The conference was opened by the keynote speaker – Prof. Dr Maurice de Greef, UNESCO Chair in Adult Education at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel.

He delivered a lecture entitled “The impact of learning: A lever for social inclusion and labour market position.” It focused on the model of social inclusion and measurable impact of non-formal learning based on over 120 studies on 10 000 learners in around 200 communities in several countries. The research on validation of transversal competences conducted within the TRANSVAL-EU project (including the results of field trials held in Austria, Belgium, Italy, Lithuania, Poland and Portugal in 2022-23) was an important part of the presentation, supporting the conclusion: non-formal learning can and will impact adult learners’ lives positively if organised and conducted in cooperation with other forms of learning.

At the end of the day Barbara Fijałkowska and Roksana Pierwieniecka, validation experts at IBE, delivered the presentation “Transversal competences – what they are and how to recognise them?”. It was focused on:

  • what are transversal competences,
  • how can they be measured and assessed,
  • the findings from the Polish field trial within the TRANSVAL-EU project.

The conference was, despite technical problems at the beginning, a success. While it lasted one day, the discussion stretched beyond the allotted time and will find its conclusion in a series of articles in IBE’s scientific publication, a quarterly magazine “Edukacja” (“Education”).