The DASCHE project was rooted in the Bologna Process. The Bologna Declaration states that ‘awareness of shared values and belonging to a common social and cultural space’ is a main purpose of higher education, next to providing European citizens with ‘the necessary competences to face the challenges of the new millennium’. Also “social competences” are requested from HE graduates in other relevant European strategies, such as the Qualifications Framework for EHEA or European Qualification Framework (particularly the pillar “competences: autonomy and responsibility”).
The main objective of the DASCHE project was to support learning policy between countries and higher education institutions (HEIs) in development, assessment and validation of learning outcomes relevant for social competences in all HEI activities, including the curriculum process.
This objective was achieved through:
- A detailed analysis of the ways of forming the social competences by HEIs adopted in different countries including:
- inclusion of social competences in the qualifications awarded by HE;
- teaching/learning and assessment/examination methods;
- responsibilities of HEIs and other institutions;
- standards, criteria and processes of external and internal quality assurance;
- current debate on development of social competences.
2. Based on the analysis models and methodologies of introducing and assessing learning outcomes linked to social competences in the formal HE qualifications will be identified, further developed and include into the DASCHE recommendations addressed to the project participants as well as to the decision makers on local, regional and European level. .
Building common understanding of social competence in DASCHE project
The term ‘social competences’ has many characteristics and different meanings, which differ between countries and educational traditions. We decided not to limit the scope of our study to one, pre-selected definition, but to develop a better understanding of social competences by carefully embracing the diversity of approaches. This way, we aim to achieve additional value, by identifying differences and similarities in the understanding and functioning of social competences. The conceptualization of social competence in the DASCHE project is serving a double purpose, i.e. building common understanding of the concept in its variations, as well as defining the study subject and research field.
Social competences need to be analysed in a life-wide perspective. In particular they are important for:
- personal and social development of individuals,
- the functioning of societies,
- economy and the labour market.
We assume that social competence can be called a meta-competence. It is closely linked with attitudes, values and motivations (affective domain of learning), it cannot be separated from knowledge and skills (cognitive and practice-oriented domains). It is “the ability to combine knowledge, skills and readiness to engage” that has been identified as key for understanding what social competence is. The social competences allow us to make use of knowledge and skills for right, valuable objectives.
Social competence has been linked with the ability to judge (evaluate) reality and readiness for thinking and actions on behalf of public interest, including civic participation.