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Terminology

In the scope of the PIAAC Survey, two terms are used to define the research subject in Slovenian and foreign literature, namely "adult competences" and "adult skills". The research group participating in the PIAAC Survey in Slovenia has drawn attention to the fact that these terms should not be used as synonyms and recommends a differentiated use. An original paper on the importance of understanding and use of the terms kompetence (competences) and spretnosti (skills) is being prepared. It will satisfy the need for unified use of terms that arose with the inclusion of Slovenia into the International PIAAC Survey.

Terminological aspects of the PIAAC Project (summarised from the paper by J. Muršak, PhD, Report on PIAAC Survey, Thematic Studies, Internal materials, SIAE): The research and development work enabled by the PIAAC Survey includes much more than the representation of data and their simple empirical interpretation. The Survey offers a much deeper insight into the existing concepts of knowledge, skills and competences, their understanding and, not least of all, into the existing paradigms and definitions of general education, general knowledge and evaluation of capabilities of the population, especially the work force. The questions it opens also include the productive capacity of people and the quality of human capital available to national economies.

(...) The problem is not only that the same terms are used in data presentations and interpretation. The real problem is that the expert analyses and studies being written now and in the future based on the gathered data will influence the development of technical and scientific language in the long term. For this reason, the language, terminology and conceptual aspects must be accorded special attention.

Only skills (spretnosti) can be directly measured and compared, but not also competences (kompetence). In the Slovenian PIAAC Survey, the distinction between the terms is more or less strictly enforced, and the terms are not understood as synonyms.  As a consequence, the research consortium made the decision to use the terms as differentiated terms in all studies and texts in the scope of the Project Measuring the effectiveness of education and training to improve the competences of adult educators. The term kompetenca (competence) is used only as defined by the DeSeCo Project, and the term spretnost is a direct translation of the word skill, meaning one of the key ingredients of every competence.

A special consideration must be accorded to suitable naming of basic skills measured by the PIAAC Survey, which are called "literacy", "numeracy" and "problem solving in technology rich environments" in the English documents. The dilemma was whether to use the terms "pismenost" (literacy), "spretnost" (skill), "kompetenca" (competence) and "zmo┼żnost" (capability) or something else. It was decided to use the terms "besedilne spretnosti", "matemati─Źne spretnosti" and "spretnosti reševanja problemov". The decision is partly arbitrary, since word-for-word translation of the terms is not possible.

Large projects such as the PIAAC Survey are a good opportunity for development of appropriate technical language, in addition to basic results, their interpretation and further elaboration. In addition to implementation of the Project and the use of the gathered results for research and creation of education policy, it would be logical to establish a suitable terminological portal that would allow the users to use the terms appropriately and enrich Slovenian scientific terminology.

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