The term ‘competence’ is used in different pedagogical contexts during the last decades. Depending on the context – vocational education, measuring literacy at schools or the defining a common understanding of basic skills in EU countries – different understandings of the term ‘competences’ can be found. A common understanding is to see competences as available and teachable cognitive skills and proficiency within a person to solve problems and the motivational, volitional and social readiness and capabilities to solve these solutions in variable situations successfully and responsible (see Weinert, 2002, p. 27). Following Meigel (2022) the differences in the understanding can be categorized into three groups:

1.       Competences as generalized capacities (OECD). This understanding of the term ‘comptences’ can be found in the German Qualification Reference Framework (DQR) that is based on the European Qualification Framework (EQF). Like the EQF, the DQR has eight levels, which are structured differently to those of the EQF. In a sense, the categories and competence descriptions of the DQR expand on and specify the EQF in more specific terms. The EQF has three categories (1. Knowledge, 2. Skills and 3. Responsibility and Autonomy) the DQR four of them (1. Knowledge, 2. Skills, (= professional competence), 3. Social competences and 4. Indepandance (= personal competence) (BMBF, 2011). Thus, the DQR makes clear that a holistic understanding of competence is central to the German education system. The four-categories structure was selected in order to appropriately describe a comprehensive ability to act in all its aspects. Both – EQF and DQR – regard competences as outcomes of learning. As such they are based on the idea that there is a match between (professional) activities and necessary competences.

2.       Competences as definitions for cognitive skills (PISA, PIRLS, PIAAC). Another view on competences can be found in the international studies like PISA, PIRLS or PIAAC. Here we find a strict separation of cognitive and motivational components of competences. The competence description is focussed on the cognitive components that can be taught at schools or other institutions of formal and non-formal learning. This leads to an understanding of competences which is more precisely concentrated on concrete domains or situations (Klieme & Hartig, 2007). Competences are functional! This understanding helps to separate competences from more general terms like intelligence or talent.

3.       Competences as dispositions for self-organization. In this understanding competences are seen as the ability of a person to successfully master open, incalculable, complex and dynamic situations in a self-organized way (Heyse & Erpenbeck, 2004). In other words: competences are dispositions to organize oneself. They are conditions to adapt oneself to concrete situations and changing conditions by successfully adapting one’s strategies of behaviour. (Heyse & Erpebnbeck, 2004). This understanding matches very well with the idea of informal learning because it focusses on the fact that individuals are defining the goals of their learning by themselves. Competences are – like informal learning, too – based on self-determination. The following principles are crucial: Their development is non-linear; they are reinforcing themselves because competences are leading to the development of new competences because of new experiences; they are depending on factors inside the individuals and not from outside (environment); they are depending on internalized values and they are depending on the development of a person and on his or her history.

As it was shown the understanding of competences as dispositions for self-organization is matching very well to the concept of informal learning. In a circular process it is affecting (and affected by) mental actions (like problem solving or assessment), physical actions (like working or manufacturing), communicative actions and reflexive actions (like self-assessment). They are especially important in situations in which established routines are not available. As a consequence self-organized actions are reflexive on the individual (personal competence), on the social environment (social and communicative competence), on the objective environment (domain and method related competence) and on one’s motivation and endurance (activation and action competences).

·Personal competences (P) are dispositions within the individual leading to self-organized action. They encompass the ability to assess oneself, to reflect on oneself as a person and to develop own individual values, motivation and standpoints. This is as well affecting gifts, motivation, creativity and learning.

·Social and communicative competences (S) are dispositions to collaborate with others in a self-organized, cooperative and communicative was. The behaviour of a person is orientated on groups and relationships to others in order to create shared action-plans to develop joined tasks and objectives. Social and communicative competences are important to put coordinated actions on a stable ground.

·Domain and method related competences (F): These dispositions are the conditions for a self-organized, accurate, objective and domain-based problem solving. This is depending on professional and methodological knowledge and on the capability to develop this knowledge further in a creative way.

·Activation and action competences (A) are dispositions to put the other competences into action. This means to integrate the personal, social-communicative and domain related competences of a person into his or her personal motives and endurance.

The categorization of competences into these four sub-categories is very well matching with the four categories of the DQR in spite of different terms used. As can be seen in IO 2 they are as well matching with the developmental tasks explained above. Heyse and Erpenbeck (2017) have defined 64 aspects of the four sub-categories of competences and summarized them systematically in their competence-atlas. What makes this atlas relevant for this project is – besides the topics mentioned above – the fact that hey can be adapted to different topics. The following graphic mentions the personal competences, social- communicative competences, domain and method-related competences and action competences of the competence-atlas using our adaptation to the properties of informal learning and education for sustainable development. In our adaptation of the model from Heyse and Erpenbeck (2017), the following matrix (comptetence-atlas) can be formulated:


In the next step carried out in IO 2, the three above mentioned developmental tasks (material resources, social cohesion / justice / social fairness, self-efficacy; see also the definitions above) can be integrated into the model. Again, the mapping cannot be done clearly and unambiguously, but it is plausible.

Based on working paper issued by Prof. Dr. Thomas Eckert, Ludwig-Maximilians University Munich