This is a case study sharing some insights into the planning and implementation stages of the bilateral small-scale partnership “Educated in Democracy, United by Common Aims,Teaching with Innovation, Opportunities and Nondiscrimination” E.D.U.C.A.T.I.O.N. – ref. no. 2021-2-RO01-KA210-SCH-000049259.
While preparing the application form of the project in October 2021, both school partners – Liceul Teoretic „Radu Vlădescu”, located in Pătârlagele town, Buzău county, Romania, and Lycee Pierre Joseph Laurent, located in Aniche town, France – kept in mind the necessity to ensure the success of the Erasmus+ partnership, knowing that it would be assessed with the help of both quantitative and qualitative indicators.
When assessing a project, from a quantitative perspective, it is compulsory to observe and keep a record of the number of participants in the project activities (debates, round-table discussions, workshops, open-air concerts, transdisciplinary competitions etc.), the number of successful activities and tangible results, the number of online visitors and followers, as well as the popularity of the project activities and posts on social media platforms, the number of readers of project-related articles and viewers of news reports or interviews in the local media etc.
It is also essential to understand that, in order to determine the quality of the activities in an international partnership, there should be initial questionnaires (to identify needs, expectations and fears) as well as final questionnaires for feedback. There should also be interviews, testimonials, video materials with the participants and direct beneficiaries to be watched and appreciated (or not) by the public.
The project coordinators are the first ones to plan, select the methods and strategies, monitor, observe, assess, readjust, ask thought-provoking questions, assign roles and responsibilities, use personalized, longitudinally designed evaluations, collect and analyse feedback in order to measure the positive or negative impact of the project activities.
By asking some students to teach and train others in a flipped classroom, for example, with the students teaching the content and applying the knowledge and experience they gained to complete an authentic real-life task, there is enough evidence of knowledge, skills, attitudes and values to prove the effectiveness of the project activity and to promote the development of the knowledge society and life-long learning.
From a qualitative point of view, a transnational mobility definitely provides increased knowledge of European heritage, for example, environmental protection, democratic citizenship or any other topic and priorities that the Erasmus+ project is built on and improved skills, attitudes and behaviours which obviously impact the European community in a positive way. It goes without saying that, during the implementation of an international project, each partner shool exchanges its best experiences and practices. This is why Desiderius Erasmus’s words ”The important thing for you is not how much you know, but the quality of what you know” are still relevant and valuable, especially in the field of education.
What is also worth mentioning is that the individual and group observation method, digital products and online surveys can be used with great results to measure the attitudinal skills of the participants, assess progress and the success of the project for all those involved. And even though values are the most difficult to ”teach” or to ”learn”, these challenges are almost always overcome due to the incredible potential of the human resources and the appropriate educational tools and cultural experiences. Firstly, the teachers who create learning and training opportunities for all their students and their community, who work together with other schools to pursue the ideals of opportunity and equality and change the way people see the world are the real educators of the 21st century, who protect the most valuable legacy of Europe – the younger generations. Secondly, the younger generations are inspired by these types of learning experiences to measure success not through material possessions, but only through duty fulfilled and lasting achievements. Seeing them become more open to differences, more actively involved in their community, more skillful and competent will reveal the success criteria of an international partnership.
Observing behaviour, task engagement, interactions with peers and teachers, observing participants solve problems or give feedback on what they know or what they can do with the newly gained knowledge and skills means 21st century assessment and these methods should be applied to determine the individual gains of collaborative learning and the development of new attitudes, beliefs, actual changes in their behaviour and relationships.
Attitude questionnaires can be applied to check the improvements in understanding, empathy, solidarity, social inclusion etc, but discussions, debates, role playing, intercultural dialogues etc. may also be used to measure the students’ and teachers’ positive changes.
If modern education implies preparation for the future, then each European school becomes the environment whose main role is to create the conditions for this transformation, where the teachers act as a facilitators of change in accordance with the expressed or implied needs of the social context. Therefore, the teaching-learning process should be nothing more than cooperation based on a socio-cultural partnership, where education is not a temporary provided service but a natural manifestation of a citizen in the century of globalization, speed, knowledge, information, technological and scientific progress but also of functional illiteracy, military conflicts, social tensions and political crises, religious intolerance, terrorist threats, poverty, discrimination, inequality and, why not, ignorance.
Accordingly, the application of quality standards in education must be interpreted creatively, functionally and critically, but not selectively. The inter-connectivity and interdependence of human factors require the use of additional material resources, more time, more energy, and, as a result, the exploration of new opportunities and approaches to learning becomes a priority that is supposed to last for life.
To conclude with, teaching professionals, decision-makers and learning communities should be the main target groups for the dissemination of the Erasmus+ project results since they are the ones who need to become aware of the role of students’ personal development in the evolution of a society of peace, well-being, inclusion, tolerance, sustainability, prosperity and progress.