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Teaching and learning processes between informal and formalization


In this work, Reinhard Zürcher describes the teaching-learning processes via continuity that covers the entire space from informal to formal processes. As an alternative of the standard descriptive interpretation, he makes use of an analytical perspective that relates to the notions of informal and formal educating and learning within the concept of type. "Formalization", which is interpreted because the generalization of the characteristics of the teaching-learning course of, has been identified as a basic variable of continuity. Equally, informalism is interpreted as individual. Alternatives for potential academics to broaden and the educating process are related to the learning course of. To stop Reinhard Zürcher shares the continuity of the teaching-learning process with the underlying criteria and abandons the time period of unofficial learning, combines the method.

content material: introduction · definitions and their penalties · patterns · discussion of terms · unified idea · summary · continuation and references · recognitions · writer · learn how to point out this work


The terms formal, informal and non-formal learning are the result of have to make a distinction so as to achieve a deeper understanding of the complicated term "learning". Because of this, the learning process have to be seen with the help of its group, regulation, academics or trainers. It must also look at its content, structure, type and context. Some essential contrasts seem once we do that. For instance, when regulation is differentiated to self-regulation and exterior regulation, informality / formality is split between "non-form" and "shape" columns. When utilized to learning, we achieve non-formal and informal learning, leaving open the which means of the overall term "informal learning".

Within the closer examination, quite a lot of questions come up, lots of which have thus far not been satisfactorily answered. For instance, what’s the relationship between non-formal and informal learning? Is it affordable to characterize non-formal learning on the idea of kinds of learning (eg self-directed learning or random learning)? What are the results of comparative studies and statistics based mostly on totally different interpretations of non-formal and informal learning? Is it attainable to realize a uniform definition of concepts in a descriptive means that isn’t to some extent arbitrary?

On this work I attempt to mix the ideas of non-formal and formal learning with interpretation in the type of them. As well as, I talk about – by ignoring the philosophical and epistemological dimension of the form – how the talk on informal and formal learning could be integrated into the wider context of the teaching-learning process. Finally, I’ll make some remarks concerning the relationship between educating and learning.

Definitions and their penalties

The start line refers to the definitions of formal, non-formal and informal learning in literature. The most typical definition in Europe is proposed by the Fee of the European Communities (2001: 32-33).

Learning from every day actions associated to working life, family, or leisure. It isn’t structured (when it comes to learning objectives, learning time or learning help) and sometimes does not result in certification. Informal learning might be intentional, but normally it isn’t intentional (or 'random' / random).

One other generally cited designation is Marsick and Watkins (2001: 25):

A class that includes random learning might occur in instructional institutions, but isn’t sometimes classroom-based or nicely structured, and learning management is based on the learner's palms. […] Informal learning is often deliberate, however not very structured

Along with these definitions, there are a number of others in the literature which were repeatedly in contrast in the meantime (eg Colley, Hodkinson and Malcolm 2003; OECD (undated); Overwien 2009; Smith 1999 / 2008), which I do not repeat here.

Variations and discrepancies between current definitions, particularly non-formal and informal learning, may be traced for a number of reasons: [19659015] Definitions are descriptive definitions and usually look like kind of credible. Nevertheless, they don’t seem to be developed in principle and are based mostly on elements of the educating and learning process

  • The phrases that emerged within the context of pedagogy, educating sociology and schooling policy have been described by describing them in other methods of learning (eg self-directed learning).
  • The terms derive from totally different connections and are formulated in response to varied issues. Dewey created 'informal schooling' to restrict faculty schooling to colleges. “Informal learning” turned the preferred within the 1950s as a milestone in adult schooling, particularly for Knowles (Smith 2002). “Informal Education” turned a time period in the debate on post-war improvement coverage (Coombs 1968).
  • The definitions usually are not precise enough. “Usually”, “may” and “in most cases”, as in the definition of the European Commission, the theoretical basis is unattainable. The same argument applies to other definitions where, as Marsick and Watkins (2001), as "may", "typically", "primarily," and "generally", are often the essential parts of the definition
  • The relationship between educating and learning (eg between non-formal and informal learning) is just not sufficiently taken under consideration.
  • The controversial and systematic terms cause critical issues in research in learning situations. And not using a consistent vocabulary, it is troublesome to mix the studied learning conditions and the results are limited to individual instances. For comparable causes, the results of comparative schooling analysis are nonetheless suspicious. If the formal, non-formal and informal learning used within the totally different nations does not coincide, it isn’t attainable to draw reliable conclusions from the outcomes.


    If learning is differentiated into non-formal, informal and formal learning, the primary question is: what’s the potential of the time period? consists of three sub-conditions? (The sub-terms are characterized by quite a few options not shown within the following first figures.)

    An area with undefined boundaries

    The apparent strategy is to think about three phrases that limit one another to informal, informal and formal learning:


    . 1: Area Mannequin

    This symbolic system prevailed in the second half of the 20th century. It permits the mixture of these three phrases for certain instructional groups: non-formal learning with learning in on a regular basis life and workplace, non-formal and informal learning (with out certification) and formal learning with a excessive degree of organized schooling. The three standards limiting the world included the level of location and organizational learning

    This primarily administrative idea proved to be too simple, as a result of nearer to the boundaries of domains disappear. Informal learning can also be happening in faculties, and organized phases of learning might be present in everyday life. Subsequently, it was vital to incorporate the small print of the learning process in the description and delimitation. In the following years, dozens of definitions have been proposed which differed of their scope and defining traits relying on the individual, background and curiosity (see, for instance, Smith 1999).

    Continuum from Unofficial to Formal Learning

    There isn’t any answer to the issue of limiting circumstances. Figure 1 can’t characterize learning situations that always combine formal, informal, and informal parts. (An instance of on a regular basis life: someone buys a language that consists of a textbook and a CD in a grocery store. He learns informally elsewhere and depending on the time out there, typically with a good friend who has a language.)

    Subsequently, it has been repeatedly recommended that domains are replaced by unofficial Continuity of Formal Learning (Ellis 1990; Colley, Hodkinson and Malcolm 2003; Rogers 2004 and 2006; Rohs 2007):

    [19659006]. 2: Continuum Model

    Nevertheless, this technique additionally leaves some questions open: what’s the significance of arrows on the ends of the sequel (it definitely can’t lead to infinity)? How is the actual learning course of positioned? Is this place a continuation of

    1. points? Such some extent might characterize only one form of learning or two of them within the transition zone, however it will not characterize the actual learning process
    2. as a phase of continuity? This is identical drawback as mentioned in
    3. for the sum of factors or segments? This assumption is actually a actuality, however it isn’t satisfactory as a result of continuity doesn’t have an inner structure, which makes it unclear what points or segments distinguish.

    Current concepts usually resemble Figure 2. Consultant Instance of Rogers (2004):

    Determine. three: Rogers (2004) Continuum I

    Rogers chooses the "social organization" as the organizational criterion. Formal schooling deals with closed teams, while informal learning is a matter for unbiased and unbiased people. Transition zones are situated between informal and inclusive schooling.

    The delimitation – on this case between four – types of learning – is once more on the descriptive – metaphorical degree, not analytical. The above-mentioned drawback of inter-zone migration, as well as the query of which points separate the learning zones, remains unresolved. The one criterion that separates zones is the social group, so the solution is particular and not basic. As well as, schooling and learning are in line, schooling covers three quarters of continuity. Lastly, there isn’t a relationship between educating and learning.

    Two years later, Rogers introduced a continuation in a modified type (Rogers 2006: 7):

    . four: Rogers Continuum II (2006)

    On this sequel, each events are exchanged, "participant" is replaced by "self-directed", and the continuum is interpreted when it comes to the extent of learning consciousness, but previous

    Separation and elimination of informal learning characteristics

    Colley, Hodkinson and Malcolm (2003) introduced a questionnaire on the definitions of non-formal learning. They collected 20 criteria for separating informal formal learning and arrived at the following continuation:

    . 5: Contleyum of Colley / Hodkinson / Malcolm (2003: 28)

    Sadly, a considerable variety of 20 criteria resemble courses moderately than practical criteria (extra specifically, Zürcher 2007: 40-41) and lack of continuity, resembling its predecessors, is a measure of the situation of learning processes [19659006] Lately, Rohs has proposed continuous coaching within the office (2007: 34). Columns for informal and formal learning are characterised by six criteria (translation: R.Z.):

    . 6: Continuum of Rohs (2007)

    The number of these criteria is a manageable compromise for real apply. Nevertheless, it have to be seen if this selection is able to describing learning processes with adequate accuracy. Co-ordinating “learning” and “problem solving” as well as “theoretical knowledge” and “experiential knowledge” is just not sustainable because these two confrontations are confused with real learning processes. "Partially unconscious learning" is just too obscure. The same applies to 'holistic' learning, which can also be utilized in formal techniques.

    Learning Mixer

    Describing the transition from formal to non-formal learning, Cross (2007) invented the "learning mixer", mixing on the deck rulers to vary the seven learning course of criteria:

    . 7: Cross (2007)

    The training mixer tells us that the learning process all the time consists of a mix of formal and informal parts and that their relationship is exclusive for each criterion. The position of the principles may be transferred to the criterion in three criteria, leading to an ambiguous superposition of separate and continuous movement. The learning mixer improves continuity by introducing the first coarse measurement. Nevertheless, the selection of the seven criteria appears to be considerably arbitrary.

    Integration of the Teaching Course of

    Up to now, the educating processes mentioned have a kind of lacking position. It’s manifested solely in the characterization of formal learning. One of the few exceptions is Livingstone (2001), which, along with informal and non-formal learning, introduces to his system, in addition to informal and non-formal learning, other educating processes (faculty, schooling, schooling): 19659006]

    Tab. 1: Livingstone (2001) Teaching and Learning Types

    Livingstone (2) configures its idea as a website mannequin, the place learning coordinates include two forms of knowledge buildings (& # 39; predefined knowledge structure vs. "contextual data structure"). Nevertheless, comparing this technique to a linear continuum is troublesome because it has several methods of working in the teaching-learning process

    Dialogue of ideas

    In accordance with Confucius, obscure phrases might finally lead to social stability. Although I do not need to draw such far-reaching conclusions in this research, it is clear that clarification and harmonization of terms is desirable, not only to create a strong foundation for non-formal learning analysis, but in addition to improve mutual understanding. discussions. The following phase analyzes the primary terms of this article

    Type – Formation – Formalization

    Informal, unofficial and formal learning are ideas of type. Within the ordinary interpretation, the form is the form of materials or religious entities, and one might be glad with it. Nevertheless, the history of the shape concept exhibits that the shape state resembles time: in a better examination, the strong land disappears and the idea turns into extra mysterious. Fortuitously for practical causes we don’t need an epistemological foundation.

    The shape just isn’t originally, it comes from a process that can be chemical, social, pedagogical, and so forth. The form comes into existence and appears by means of the formation of parts involved within the course of. Normally, formation shouldn’t be a course of ab initio, but a course of through which already present elements work together to tackle a new shape.

    The resulting unity, the shaped context, and even the formation process itself may be further modified by sure measurements. The actual change within the course of is formalization: the method is generalized (and thus develops within the reverse course of identification). By way of formation, the method and its context turn into obligatory for all involved individuals. Generalization is completed by standardizing these parts and processes

    In educating apply, standardization leads to room and furniture standards, the adoption of curricula, qualification (coaching requirements), definition of examination procedures, and so on. Ancillary phenomena of formation are the second path, systemization and abstraction. In this interpretation, formalization determines the person's relationship with the overall. Because people are often unable to type this relationship, state authorities or governments use formalization.

    Domain Identify and Continuity

    The boundaries of a region have uniform circumstances when it comes to defining properties. If the three definitions of non-formal, informal and formal learning are equivalent (as in Figure 1), there are only three states of diploma of formalization. Nevertheless, sooner or later, the state (e.g., Formation diploma) will change at any level alongside the line. Two dimensions of continuity turns into a area. The superposition of the domain identify and the continuity model is obtained if, in the two-dimensional state, one dimension is continuous and the other dimension is separate (e.g., by Three values).

    A key aspect of continuity is a measure that determines the change of a variable along the continuity. The most typical measure is the share scale from zero% to 100%

    Software to the Learning Learning Process

    How can unofficial and formal learning be interpreted now? Both shapes with setting. Non-formal learning can’t imply that it isn’t shaped, and that formal learning additionally corresponds to learning. It is clear that each forms of learning check with the formalization of learning, the generalization of the authority. Strictly talking, non-formal learning ought to be replaced by non-formal learning and formal learning by way of formal learning. Since this interpretation has not turn into widespread, it can be stored in thoughts. For the informal formal continuation, this means: learning non-formal learning in the Polar is formalized by none of its features, while the learning process within the formal learning node is formalized to all its constitutional standards (open to formalization). There’s a transition zone for gradual formalization

    The other of generalization is identification. If formalization is a generalization, and formal learning is interpreted in this approach, non-formal learning is particular person learning. Thus, unofficial learning shouldn’t be a mixture of non-formal learning and self-directed learning for self-directed learning. Nevertheless, there’s a distinction to be made right here: self-directed learning is simply a matter of individual learning, self-organized learning just for the group. Such learning relates solely to individuality (and thus to informal), whereas duality “informal formality” represents a superior class.

    The Combined Concept

    The relationship between educating and learning

    informal learning, the educating perspective is often packed in formal learning. Informal learning shouldn’t be thought-about to be the equal of informal learning. However – in line with social learning theories – human learning does not happen with out the influence of different individuals. So, if academics or mentors train in situational situations with out referring to structured content, they train this informally (see Desk 1).

    To be able to type a consistent idea (in) of the formal teaching-learning process, it appears affordable to think about educating and learning to be symmetrical and complementary. The result of the continuum of educating / learning is 2 parallel steady: one from informal to formal learning and the opposite from informal to formal schooling:

    . eight: Continuing the Symmetric Teaching Learning Process

    In Determine 8, educating and learning are entangled within the formalization order. In the meanwhile, it’s unclear how they relate, so some preliminary remarks are made right here. Trustworthy asymmetry seems to be characteristic of conventional pedagogy: learning is feasible not solely in faculties and courses, but in addition in a self-directed means in textbooks, workplaces and on a regular basis life, as a “natural book”. “And even with out figuring out it. Nevertheless, educating has been lowered to the work of the instructor (or extra broadly, mother and father, age teams, or different individuals) and textbooks, that are a type of "prolonged voice" of the instructor

    . it isn’t a logical consequence of the instructor's activity however is a matter of the conference. Subsequently, it may be argued that if an individual learns something – eg by observing an animal, rock, phenomenon or objects – a person has taught this stuff or objects. (In fact, an artifact, eg Aura, can’t be taught in the same means as a instructor. A instructor may give an concept of ​​complicated cultural methods, the aura can only train one thing concerning the materials from which it is made, its aesthetic qualities, or perhaps its place of manufacture, its connection, and so on. that anyone learns from the plow, whether it is actively pursuing it, is mistaken because the identical applies to the varsity instructor.)

    : It isn’t only attainable to study from every part but in addition to show.

    Is this all the time the case? This query raises the other question: how might it’s totally different? If a gaggle of pupils who can train, extends to dwelling beings, things, and phenomena, there’s all the time the other of the pole of educating and learning. Suppose the instructor teaches chemistry to students. No one listens, so no one learns anything. Did the instructor train in this case? He made voices and gestures. So if there may be no educating with out learning (and vice versa), then we will formulate the phrase "pedagogical interaction": educating and learning all the time happen on the similar time.

    Suppose this prolonged teaching-learning idea is valid. The learning cycle of Determine 8 could be simplified

    . 9: Continuing the Prolonged Teaching and Learning Process

    The columns of continuity are defined within the extent of type formation: not formalization at the informal finish, formalization all through the formal finish. Teaching and learning are symmetric (and on the similar time) at all factors in the continuum

    Uniform continuity

    The following states type the idea of the issues thus far:

    1. Continuity between non-formal and formal learning
    2. Continuity of learning have to be complemented by the educating interval
    3. The continuity of learning needs to be broken down into its primary characteristics, because every function can adopt its personal degree of ritual. 19659021] For these causes, Cross's "learning mixer" is accepted, edited, and interpreted alternatively. The division of the learning course of properties into three elements is changed by the actual Continua program, which corresponds to the growing diploma of formalization. In this case, the learning mixer becomes a “formalization mixer”. Subsequent, the relevant properties of the teaching-learning process (location, structure, management, and so on.) have to be chosen and carried out. Since there isn’t any present canon, these features can solely be chosen based on sensible rules. As well as, the diploma of formalization of every attribute have to be determined

      Within the first approximation, approximately two dozen attributes must be adequate to explain the teaching-learning process. Their order is a kind of subjective choice, and totally different pedagogical theories result in totally different order standards. Choice of standards and a precise description of their adaptability requires additional research, so listed here are just some consultant criteria. Goals, location, occasions and period of educating and learning, content / supplies, methods, tools, construction of teaching-learning course of, steerage, social group, interplay between instructor and learner, peer-to-peer interaction, diploma of consciousness, motivation, will, validation / certification, and so on. could be expected from an inventory of bodily, pedagogical, social, psychological and political criteria.

      It may be assumed that the formatting of standards similar to the situation of the teaching-learning course of can be straightforward to define. But with a more detailed evaluation, these standards show to be fairly delicate: College students not solely study within the formal location of the classroom, but in addition in the faculty building, library, museum, bus or house. Lecture rooms symbolize only a fraction of the learning places. The image is somewhat totally different with regard to the length of the learning-learning course of, because students use most of their learning time at college. The least formability might be expected from psychological features reminiscent of motivation and will. External motivation (awards or drawbacks) might be generalized to some extent, however inner motivation will definitely stay a single asset.

      The measurement technique is important to put these and further standards within the continuity of educating learning. A proportion describing the extent to which a given criterion has been formalized can be adequate to satisfy quite a few standards. Discrete spectrum seems to be extra suitable for other criteria. For 'certification', the option 'sure / no' or a number of options (no certificate, attendance certificate, sectoral certification, basic worth certification) can be a greater answer. Finally, there are criteria corresponding to a learning environment that can be charted on a scale by subjective estimates, however which aren’t self-evident

      What follows from these numerous particular person standards for the continuation of educating learning? Because the criteria have totally different degrees of shape formation, it is mindless to find out the typical to be summed generally continuity. (Subsequently, sure forms of educating and learning, akin to teaching, can’t be positioned in the identical place in the continuum.) Moderately, every formable criterion might be represented by its personal continuity, resulting in individual educating and learning.

      pattern. 10: Unified continuum
      (example of a single teaching-learning course of)

      This figure is dynamic: it is determined by the time, as a result of the standards of the learning-learning process and their degrees of formality can change in its course. Again, the continuity of every particular person criterion have to be conceived as a combined educating and learning course of. Using a poetic subnet, one might argue that the teaching-learning process corresponds to the evolving melody of the harp-repeating criterion orchestra of the formal mixer. But in the somewhat prosaic idea of type formation, the abacus metaphor appears to be better suited: the diploma of formalization of the standards of the teaching-learning process varies in response to its actual circumstances and thus shows a dynamic pattern.


      The issues introduced on this document could be summarized as follows:

      • Informal and formal lessons are concepts of type.
      • & # 39; Informal & # 39; means & # 39; not formal & # 39; and & # 39; formal & # 39; reads & # 39; formalized. ”
      • Formalization corresponds to generalization, which is carried out by means of systematization and standardization. Generalization extends the scope of validity to all members and adjusts and intensifies buildings and processes.
      • Learning and educating might be shaped, albeit to a certain extent, and not in all of their traits.
      • Learning and educating are inextricably intertwined
      • The informal pole corresponds to individualization;
      • None of the (ultimate) criteria for an informal learning-learning course of is formal; all the standards of the (perfect) formal learning-learning process are formalized. Actual teaching-learning processes can type a proper continuity in every facet.
      • Every teaching-learning course of corresponds to a specific model during which the diploma of formalization of the totally different criteria is. This pattern is determined by the time and it varies through the teaching-learning course of.
      • In this concept, the concept of non-formal schooling and learning is superfluous.

      Extra Readings and References

      Colley, H., Hodkinson, P., and Malcolm, J. (2003) Awareness and Formality in Learning: Report to the Learning and Expertise Analysis Middle, London: Learning and Expertise Analysis Middle. [ Accessed March 27, 2010]

      Fee of the European Communities (2001) Creating a European space of ​​lifelong learning, Brussels: Commission of the European Communities. [ Accessed March 27, 2010]

      Coombs, P. (1968) World Instructional Disaster. New York: Oxford College Press.

      Cross, J. (2007) All or Nothing. Unofficial Learning Weblog, February 9 [ Accessed March 27, 2010]

      Ellis, J.W. (1990) “Unofficial Education – A Christian Perspective”, an informal schooling encyclopedia. [ Accessed March 27, 2010]

      Knowles, M. (1950), Unofficial Adult Schooling. New York: Affiliation Press.

      Livingstone, D.W. (2001) “Informal Learning for Adults: Definitions, Observations, Deficiencies and Future Research”. NALL Working Paper No. 21. [ Accessed March 27, 2010]

      Marsick, V.J. and Okay.E. Watkins (2001) “Informal Learning”. New Tips for Adult and Continuing Schooling No 89, pp. 25-34. [ Accessed March 27, 2010]

      Group for Economic Cooperation and Improvement. Directorate for Schooling (undated). Recognition of Non-formal and Informal Learning. [,3343,en_2649_39263238_37136921_1_1_1_1,00.html. Accessed Might 20, 2010]

      Overwien, B. (2009) 'Informelles Lernen. Definitionen und Forschungsansätze 'in M. Brodowski, U. Devers-Kanoglu, B. Overwien, M. Rohs, S. Salinger, and M. Walser (eds.) Informelles Lernen und Bildung für eine nachhaltige Entwicklung. Beiträge aus Theorie und Praxis, p. 23-34, Opladen & Farmington Hills, MI: Barbara Budrich.

      Rogers, A. (2004) ‘Looking again at non-formal and informal education – towards a new paradigm’. London: the encyclopaedia of informal schooling. [ Accessed March 27, 2010].

      Rogers, A. (2006) ‘Informal learning in lifelong learning’, Danish Centre on Schooling and Superior Media Materials (DREAM) Convention, September 21-23, College of Southern Denmark, Odense.

      Rohs, M. (2007) Zur Theorie formellen und informellen Lernens in der IT-Weiterbildung. Hamburg: Helmut-Schmidt-College. [ Accessed March 27, 2010].

      Smith, M. Okay. (1999, 2008) ‘Informal learning’, the encyclopaedia of informal schooling. [ Accessed March 27, 2010].

      Smith, M. Okay. (2002) ‘Malcolm Knowles, informal adult education, self-direction and andragogy’, the encyclopaedia of informal schooling. [ Accessed March 27, 2010].

      Zürcher, R. (2007) Informelles Lernen und der Erwerb von Kompetenzen. Theoretische, didaktische und politische Aspekte. Vienna: Federal Ministry for Schooling, Arts and Culture. [ Accessed March 27, 2010].

      Acknowledgements: Image – learning a language by way of actions – is by Ewan Mcintosh. They are reproduced underneath Artistic Commons licence

      Thanks, also, to Jay Cross for allowing us to breed his ‘mixer’ diagram. You possibly can access chosen chapters of Jay Cross’ guide, Informal Learning: Rediscovering the Natural Pathways That Encourage Innovation and Efficiency from the next link (it’s a ‘Kindle’ model)  :

      Concerning the author: Reinhard Zürcher works on the University of Schooling Vienna, Institute for Analysis, Innovation and Faculty Improvement. E-Mail:

      How you can cite this piece: Zürcher, Reinhard (2010). ‘Teaching-learning processes between informality and formalization’, the encyclopaedia of informal schooling. [wwwinfedorg/informal_education/informality_and_formalizationhtmAccessed:insertdatehere)

      © Reinhard Zürcher 2010

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