EAF Accreditation Framework for the European Career Guidance Practitioners at glance
1. What is EAF?
EAF is a framework for accrediting performance of people delivering career guidance, developed by Leonardo Evangelista and derived by a previous European project.
2. What does EAF accredit?
EAF accredits perfomance in main tasks. A main task (or key activity) is defined as the main identifiable and self standing activity a person delivering career guidance can accomplish (Evangelista 2007a). The main tasks identified and accredited in EAF are the following:
- 1. Deliver information related to career guidance as a separate activity
- 2. Perform career guidance interviews
- 3. Carry out career guidance activities in small groups
Main task 1 is usually carried out by interactions lasting few minutes at the counters of career guidance services or by telephone or electronic mail. In this main task the practitioner doesn’t examine in deep the situation of the client, and only information is delivered.
Main task 2 is usually carried out on appointment in a reserved space. During the interview the practitioner carries out a in depth analysis of the situation of the client and assist him/her in drawing out a realistic and effective action plan.
Main task 3 is usually carried out with students (often focused on improving knowledge of self, of educational opportunities and on improving decision skills) and adult unemployed (often focused on improving job search skills).
On each main task, accreditation is granted to the practitioner for working with mainstream (same culture of the practitioner) students and adults, both employed and unemployed. Practitioners can ask to be additionally accredited also for working with other clients groups such as immigrants (differentiated by nationality), disabled, offenders and ex-offenders, native minorities.
EAF has a mosaic structure, that is to say each practitioner can choose the main task(s) in which to be accredited. For example career guidance practitioner A can be accredited for Main task 2 Perform career guidance interviews. Career guidance practitioner B can instead be accredited under Main task 1 Deliver information related to career guidance as a separate activity, and additionally with migrants coming from North Africa.
3. Why a main task approach is the best option for accrediting European Career guidance practitioners?
Because the traditional solution to accredit occupations is not practicable in career guidance in Europe, as career guidance is delivered across different countries by people with different occupations and qualifications (Evangelista 2007b). A main task based approach solves these differences because it focuses on what the person does in practice, notwithstanding his/her occupational role. A main task approach allows also to compare occupations with different names in different countries.
4. How the assessment is carried out in EAF?
EAF assessment is based on analysis of performance on main tasks. This is to say during the assessment, the candidate must demonstrate to be capable to carry out the main task(s) for which he/she seeks accreditation. In Step 1 evidences such as educational qualifications, experience, self administered learning, testimonies from colleagues and supervisors, documentation produced by the person whilst carrying out his/her work, etc. are collected and submitted in a portfolio by the applicant and evaluated. In Step 2 the candidate is examined through an interview (vis a vis or in videoconference using Skype or Messenger) focused on how he/she carries out the main task(s) on which accreditation is requested. In Step 3 the candidate is presented a feedback on interview 2 and requested to draw a plan for improvement if necessary. This process is called Professional Checkup (see point 6 below).
To standardize the assessment, a score system for evaluating the evidences presented and a blueprint for the interview are provided. As for the blueprint, during the assessment interview a person asking for accreditation under Main task 2. Perform career guidance interviews will be assessed under the following elements:
- C.2.1. Use appropriate interview techniques to manage the interview
- C.2.2. Assist clients to identify professional goals
- C.2.3. Assist clients to develop, implement and revise action plans
- C.2.4. Assist clients to make their job search more effective
For the element C.2.1. Use interview techniques to manage the interview the following questions will be used:
- 1. which are the main steps of your interviews?
- 2. in an interview, how do you: start the interview / explain your role / explain privacy arrangements / signal time is limited / ask permission to take notes / signal time is expiring / end the interview /
- 3. which authors/models do you refer to when performing a career guidance interview?
- 4. what are the main challenges in managing an interview? How do you address them? Coould you make some examples?
Similar lists of elements and related questions are provided for the other main tasks but for brevity are not reproduced here.
5. Why a main tasks performance based assessment is the best options for accrediting practitioners and people at work in general?
The other systems based for example on educational qualifications (accreditation is granted if the applicant holds the prescribed educational qualifications), experience (accreditation is granted if the applicant holds the prescribed experience), competencies (defined – Boyatzis 1982- as personal features -skills, knowledge, etc.- causally related with good performance: accreditation is granted if the applicants holds the prescribed personal features) are all indirect, that is to say speculative. If the candidate holds the prescribed qualifications / experience / personal qualities than PROBABLY will be capable to carry out the main task(s) for which accreditation is sought. Assessment based on main tasks performance as EAF instead evaluates directly how the practitioner carries out the main task(s) for which he/she seeks accreditation, so the final result is more reliable (Evangelista 2008a, 2008c). On regard to other accreditation frameworks where assessment is carried out at a distance founded only on documents (as for example EVGP), EAF is more reliable because also an interview is prescribed.
6. EAF is operative?
In 2011-2012 EAF has been used in 6 EU countries with about 150 career guidance practitioners involved in the project IMPROVE Improving Validation of Not-Formal Learning in European Career Guidance Practitioners http://www.improveguidance.eu/ (project number 510640-LLP-1-2010-1-IT-GRUNDTVIG-GMP). The methodology has been called Professional Checkup. The Checkup consists of 3 interviews carried out face to face in person or in video using Skype during a 1-3 weeks period.
- In interview 1 the facilitator gives the participant information on the Checkup additional to that already sent in written form if needed and check Skype functioning in case Skype is going to be used for the next interviews. This will be brief (15-20 minutes)
- In interview 2 the facilitator questions the participant how he/she carries out the main task activity for which the participant asks for validation. Questions are put accordingly to a blueprint all the facilitators must follow. This methodology is called PFI Performance Based Interview and is based on EAF. One additional evaluator can participate for better evaluation (about 60minutes). After interview 2 the facilitator will send to the participant a document describing the results of the assessment.
- In interview 3 the facilitator discuss feedback on the results of interview 2 and helps the participant to elaborate a plan for competence improvement or maintenance (30-60 minutes).
Once the checkup is finished, the candidate is requested to give a feedback about its general experience, interviews 2 and 3 and the evaluator.
The process requires two main roles:
- A process administrator: he/she manages and organizes the procedure, supervises the other personnel involved in the checkup, gives first information to the candidates and produce final certification for the candidate with Checkup results
- A facilitator: he/she carry out the assessment interviews (interview 2), write a report on weak and strong points of the candidate resulting from the assessment and in interview 3 helps the candidate to draw an action plan for competence improvement or maintenance.
7. Where does EAF come from?
Leonardo Evangelista www.leonardoevangelista.it has been researching career guidance practitioners roles and accreditation since 2003. The European Project EAS (2006-2008, of which he was scientific director) gave him the possibility to further develop, discuss and pilot his ideas and findings with over 100 researchers, stakeholders and practitioners of 18 European countries. For a description of the Project EAS see Evangelista 2008b.
Evangelista L. (2007a) MTF, A Possible EAS Framework, mimeo.
Evangelista L. (2008a) The Quest for Competence.
Evangelista L. (2008b) How EAF Accreditation Framework for the European Career Guidance Practitioners was developed, mimeo
Evangelista L. (2008c) Main dilemmas when accrediting career guidance practitioners.
Author: Leonardo Evangelista www.leonardoevangelista.it © Leonardo Evangelista. First placed in this website on the 7th of October 2008. Version of 5 June 2012. This article can be reproduced quoting Author’s name and website www.orientamento.it and article’s URL.