Context and aims
Counsellors at the selected providers were using different guidance tools to support their work even before the GOAL project, but these tools were used for all adult target groups and had not been adapted for work with specific groups. Moreover, tools used in guidance provided as part of the GOAL project had not been adapted for use by different target groups; however, some of them were suitable for use with those groups.
Some tools were more difficult to use than others, which affected the frequency with which counsellors were actually able to use them in their work. Counsellors therefore had to be given additional training in their use. Even before the GOAL project started there were noticeable differences between the tools used by ISIO centres and the guidance tools used at secondary education centres. We therefore wanted to carry out a short study as part of the project with the aim of mapping these various tools and verifying which were actually being used in practice and which should be upgraded.
Tool selection, development and use
As part of the study we first mapped and described the guidance tools, which the SIAE and IRSVET recommended. At workshops, counsellors from the selected institutions then selected five tools that they used in their work and evaluated them from the point of view of ease of use, suitability for the target group, effectiveness and accessibility.
Based on the results from the workshop, the aide-mémoire for the preparation and implementation of one-to-one sessions and personal education plan were seen to be the tools of the highest quality at both types of implementing institution. Both tools were simple to use and helped counsellors achieve the desired outcomes (with adaptations in the case of the personal education plan). However, neither of these two tools were freely available, with each provider having their own tool for their own needs and use.
We then further monitored the extent to which these tools were used in practice. With the help of a questionnaire, counsellors recorded their use of the tools at guidance sessions over a period of two months. We found that the tools were most often used at the first and last sessions: specifically, at both types of provider, the interview scheme and the aide-mémoire for the preparation and implementation of one-to-one sessions. This was followed, in third place, by the personal education plan. There were significant differences in the use of the other tools between the two types of provider.
In addition to the above-mentioned tools, secondary education centres and ISIO centres alike also use websites in the course of their work, while secondary education centres generally use tools that the ISIO centres do not and vice versa: secondary education centres also use forms, e-classrooms, publications, brochures and leaflets, telephone communication and e-mail, while ISIO centres use portfolios, catalogues of professional knowledge, Europass, calls for enrolment and tools for evaluating language skills. This difference can be explained chiefly by the different types of guidance provided by the different implementing institutions, and by the different tasks that counsellors perform at these two types of institution.
Strengths and achievements
In their work, counsellors use different tools that support their work and allow them to achieve the desired results. In addition, they also highlighted, for use in their future guidance work, the GOAL questionnaire, which served as a basis for GOAL guidance sessions. They are already occasionally using it in other projects in an adapted form. The aide-mémoire for the preparation and implementation of one-to-one sessions and the personal education plan were shown to be simple-to-use and effective tools.
Challenges and barriers
Most of the other tools were assessed as being complex to use or capable of being used only with prior training, or else as not suitable for the target group or requiring additional adaptation. An additional obstacle to the use of these tools, or to their improvement and upgrading, was their availability: they were designed for use at specific institutions, although the exchange of these tools within the network would enable improvements to be made to the tools, their standardisation and development for work with specific groups and, in the final stage, the production of generic tools, with possible adaptations, for specific adult education guidance providers.