MASTER project tests tools for personal, social and learning competences

Article written by Helen Cormack, SWAPWest Scotland

During induction in September, we introduced the MASTER Project to our learners at West College Scotland in the Access to Humanities, Access to Primary Education and Access to Science groups, explaining the main outcomes and the activities which we would like them to take part in.

SWAPWest had decided to use two on-line tools: the Competence Assessment Cards for low skilled adults and the eLene 4 Work Self-Assessment tool. The Competence Cards tool comes in two levels, one for Careers Advisers and one for Learners. We used both versions: the learner cards with Access to Humanities and the adviser version with Access to Primary Education.

Two tools tested in Scotland

In October and November, we arranged with the college Guidance tutors for time with their groups to run two workshops; the first to expand on what we had told them and to introduce the concept of key competences; and the second to review their competences from profiles completed using the on -line tools. The workshops were voluntary, but we had good attendance from all three groups with only five students out of 59 not attending.

It was necessary to use the Zoom on-line platform for all our workshops due to the on-going Covid-19 pandemic. With the Competence Cards, the first workshop took around 60-90 minutes. We detailed the progress of the project and had some discussion around competences. We then gave more information on five specific competences which we wanted them to consider and allocated a task to each group in a breakout room within the Zoom platform. We rounded off the discussion of each competence by asking the class to feedback on their small group discussions.

We offered an insight into the use of the STAR technique for interviews as a focus for knowing their personal competences levels and concluded the session by providing instructions for completing the skills profile and what to do next.

By the time of the second session two/three weeks later, we had analyzed the submitted profiles which allowed us to interact with the groups about their development needs while acknowledging their strengths. We also broadened the session with some video clips around communication, fake media and the power and influence of technology in the 21st century to highlight the importance of digital critical thinking competence.

With the eLene group, the initial workshop was much shorter, but the second session followed a similar pattern.

Very positive feedback from the learners

All three groups returned their profiles to us, some with comments about the process:

The sessions were really helpful and insightful and have given me a lot of things to think about going forward with my education. Also, it was a lot of fun.

I certainly enjoyed the session.  I’d like to thank you and Erica for your guidance, it was really helpful. Also, just good listening in and taking on all your tips!

Looking forward to the second session!

And for sheer dedication, we felt we should share this:

Just a quick email to let you know I’m feeling really unwell this morning so I will keep my camera off, but I will participate using the chat function.

The Guidance tutors were sent a summary of the strengths and weaknesses identified by their group and these were well received by all three tutors. One of them commented:

Thank you for the information about the group’s strengths and weaknesses.  I’ll share with the team and think of strategies for developing their skills.  It sounds like you had a good response, which I’m delighted about. I feel that participation on the project certainly benefited them in terms of the terminology and ability to answer competency-based questions.  They were certainly very self-aware of their skills and qualities.

SWAPWest feels this was a worthwhile exercise for the learners and would certainly consider incorporating something similar in future years for all our Access Groups in addition to our usual guidance module, Preparation for Higher Education.

MASTER is an Erasmus+ KA2 project that aims to develop and/or reinforce personal, social and learning competences, which are considered vital for the re-activation and re-engagement of potential learners from vulnerable groups. The project aims to reach adults who fall into the following categories: long term unemployed; socially vulnerable adults; adults from a migrant background.

Partners in the project are Forma.Azione, Italy; Roma Tre Universita, Italy; SWAPWest, Scotland; Kerigma, Portugal; DOREA, Cyprus; and EAEA, Belgium.

More information about the project can be found here.