By Nicole den Besten, student Social Work at University of applied science Utrecht.
My name is Nicole and I am a student in my final year of Social Work at the Hogeschool Utrecht University of applied sciences (HU). Last year I participated in the “Mend The Gap” course where I learned a lot of things in regards of working together on an equal footing with experience experts. Experiential knowledge is one of the most valuable forms of knowledge in my opinion and that’s why I think it is so important that we value the collaboration with experts by experience. I have experienced that working and learning together find such simple and valuable solutions in how we as students can make small adjustments for the better in our future work as a starting professional.
While I was working together with experts by experience, in my case the STERK-students, I found out that there were a few obstacles they encounter in their work which, at times, made it more difficult for them to fulfill their job at HU. My experiences had left me wondering about the way HU supports the experts by experience and if there is a way to improve guidance by aligning with the needs of them.
In my research I am going to take a closer look in how HU can support the experts by experience in the guidance and if there are any necessary requirements the school can commit to or improve. In order to improve collaboration with experts by experience and to ultimately deploy more of their knowledge in the education system.
The first insight from the interviews with the experts by experience showed me how much they appreciate working together alongside the teachers or coach. The collaboration shows to be really useful while preparing the lessons together with the teachers or coach. They can both set expectations towards each other which helps them out later when they are teaching in front of the class. The experts by experience know in advance what to expect from the class and perhaps where to complement each other best, one explains theory and the other complements it with an additional experience story. After class the expert by experience and teacher can discuss how it went, this is experienced as very useful and instructive. The equal cooperation is also emphasized as necessary by the experts by experience in the interviews I had with them. An outcome of the interviews is that the teachers and coach at HU do that really well which makes the experts by experience feel very welcome and free to indicate what they need within the collaboration. I think this is a big compliment for the teachers and coach at HU.
There are also some things the HU can work on in order to better the workspace and how to better support the expert by experience. I am planning to collect the results in a booklet where I write recommendations to share with HU in hope they can even better the collaboration with the experts by experience. The booklet will contain stories and tips which are gathered from the interviews. This will be done in June 2023.