On 9-12 October about 60 researchers and practitioners gathered at the annual Forum on Intercultural Learning and Exchange (FILE), hosted this year by AFS Austria in Vienna, and co-organised by Intercultura Foundation (Italy), EFIL and AFS Intercultural Programs.
This was the 5th edition of FILE which built on the outcomes of last year’s and focused on ‘Intercultural learning for adolescents: indicators and measurement of competence acquired through non formal education and informal learning on educational exchanges’. The preparatory team, which included the consortium of the four organisers plus Darla Deardoff (Duke University) and Paola Bortini (Limina), put together a programme aimed at presenting the state of the art in the field. Jean-Philippe Restoueiux, Administrator at the Council of Europe in the Higher Education Unit and with long standing experience in international youth work, set the tone of the event with a key-note speech on young people today and their needs.
Veronica Boix-Mansilla from Harvard University opened the day dedicated to research by presenting a study on the assessment of global competences, of which intercultural competence is an element. A panel of experts – Mattew Cantele, Daniela Groeschke, Martyn Barret, Oana Nestian – discussed and presented other assessment methods, both quantitative to qualitative.
The second day practioners took front stage and 4 case studies were represented, focusing on the assessment of intercultural competences in the framework of non-formal education activities. The case studies referred to programmes of CISV International, Asia Society, AFS Germany and OFAJ.
After two FILEs on assessment we can conclude that a method that fits doesn’t exist, and many questions remain unanswered: why evaluate; who evaluates; can competences such as intercultural learning be assessed through a scale? The main outcome is the awareness that assessment should be voluntary, participatory, tailored and learner centred. The Forum pointed at the need to be modest in our expectations, to define clearly the measurable actions that we call “intercultural learning”, to involve the participants in the assessment process form the beginning, to share the results of the assessment for the benefit of the participants themselves, of our organisation and of those who support us (schools, sponsors, etc.).
The next FILE will be hosted by Intercultura Foundation in Italy, Colle Val d’Elsa, on 29-31 October 2015.