A new dimension in personalized inclusive education

Welcome to the third newsletter and third year of the Erasmus project!

We are delighted to start our new year with a special edition newsletter which comes from the experts by experience who have been involved with our project. We invited contributions from across the work packages, to give us a better understanding of the diversity of lived experiences people have of social work and nursing education. Wibbeke starts us off;

Expert-by-experience-Wibekke

At the University of Agder, we are fortunate to have Wibekke Adele Grønlund as a permanent employee Expert by experience in a 20% position. This text is based on a conversation with Wibekke, where she talks about her experiences in this position.

From being interviewed about personal experience to independent work with student learning

Our collaboration started in the fall of 2014, where Wibekke participated as an experience consultant at a seminar organized for students in their third year of bachelor’s degree in social work. We agreed that we would like to have more teaching with students where experiential knowledge was central, preferably in smaller groups, and preferably earlier in the study. From this conversation, we created a teaching program entitled “Dare to Ask.” In this program, we challenged students to talk about abuse issues in small groups with Expert by Experiences. The goal was to give students increased insight into abuse issues, especially late effects related to this, as well as increase their skills related to ask about difficult things. We carried out this program together several times and made small and bigger changes along the way.

In 2019, Wibekke was offered a 20% position at the University, and we got the opportunity to expand our collaboration. The employment gave us much greater continuity in the collaboration and allowed Wibekke to become much more familiar with larger parts of the study, both the various subjects and the curriculum that the students go through. Wibekke says that it gives her greater confidence in her work, and this knowledge also makes it easier for her to link her own experiences to the students’ learning goals in different topics.

Wibekke meets the students several times during their first year of bachelor’s degree in social work

Wibekke meets the students several times during their first year of bachelor’s degree in social work. Already after a few weeks of study, we have a joint lecture on user participation, where Wibekke shares her own experiences of both being heard and not being heard. Students get to participate in Wibekke’s experiences with both good and bad social workers. She shows students how she has experienced being received in the waiting room through a demonstration of body language, and thus clearly emphasizes the importance of being met with respect and recognition, and how to gain trust.

This first lecture is about user participation, and Wibekke always asks students to inquire: “Is there anything in your history that I should know, to be able to help you?” After the lecture, Wibekke meets the students in smaller groups, where they talk about user participation and how a social worker can work to contribute to the user feeling heard, seen, and taken care of.

This year, Wibekke has also participated in a writing seminar where students have submitted journal notes and decisions, and based on her experience, she focuses on the user perspective when she gives students feedback on what they have written.

The “Dare to Ask” program has developed into a program where Wibekke has a lecture where students get to know more about her experiences, then we have a joint lecture on trauma-conscious care, before the students meet Wibekke again in smaller groups. When Wibekke is asked what she likes best about her job, she says that it is the opportunity to meet the same students several times that she values the most. When Wibekke enters a teaching situation, she likes to know what the students are going to learn, so that she can even more intricately link her experience to the students’ learning goals.

This first lecture is about user participation, and Wibekke always asks students to inquire: “Is there anything in your history that I should know, to be able to help you?”

 

Our partners at UCCL, Belgium shared with us the valuable longstanding role Caro Bridts has had on the social work education course.

Expert by experience Caro1.pngExpert by experience Caro2.png
‘Caro’s assignment today is very diverse. She works 10% as a co-teacher within the social work course within different course units, so her role and involvement also vary per phase. In the first year, she is involved as a co-teacher in different lessons within the social work subject in a global perspective. In addition, in the second year she supervises students working together on specific research assignments on the theme of human rights. In the third year, she is involved as co-teacher in the subject learning from cases, where she prepares the lessons, co-teach, co-test and co-assess exams. She is also a co-teacher in the elective subject KOPO, where the aim is experiential learning as a guide. Finally, she also accompanies a three-day study trip to Utrecht that takes place annually within the social work programme.

Since this academic year, she has also been 10% extra active within UCLL’s inclusive society research centre. Here she is involved in a project researching the inclusion of the lifeworld perspective of people in poverty situations into the Leuven narrative around socially just climate transition. Finally, her involvement within the ERA+ project Experiential Knowledge is also worth mentioning.

can work as a co-teacher in higher education

Being an expert by experience is not always an easy role Caro admits. Especially the practical barriers such as geographical distance, transport expenses, restrictions, are annoying. However, Caro’s greatest motivation is that she notices that her involvement really does have an impact on the way social work is viewed, as well as on the way students and colleagues view people in poverty situations and poverty reduction at different levels (micro, meso and macro level).

Caro dreams that experiential knowledge will be recognized as equivalent knowledge within the entire education system and that co-teaching will be increasingly structurally embedded in the higher education system/policy. In an ideal world, everyone would retain their own specific function and expertise and be able to use it in the interests of the students, trainees, but also in the interests of the people themselves with whom they will work in practice. This of course requires a good framework from the higher education institution and a well-defined competency profile for the experience expert as well as a well-defined range of tasks. If this can be proven, Caro’s biggest dream for higher education will come true, namely that if she quits or disappears, the structure and knowledge within the college makes it possible to immediately send out a concrete vacancy for an experienced expert who works in an equivalent way. can work as a co-teacher in higher education. In other words, her dream is to perpetuate and make sustainable experiential expertise within the Social Work program and with expansion within the entire higher education landscape.

 

Our partners in Spain shared information about working with The KSEMAN association: ‘a non-denominational and non-profit association that offers comprehensive support and accompaniment to patients and families in processes of chronic, advanced illnesses, death, and grief.’

The association has participated in the undergraduate training of students of the Degree in Nursing of Talavera de la Reina (University of Castilla-La Mancha, Spain), since the 2021-2022 academic year workshops for students on end-of-life and mourning processes in which experts by experience and volunteers from the association have participated in teaching. The students’ evaluations of the workshops have been incredibly positive, highlighting the reflection on the end-of-life process, and the naturalisation and normalisation of death and mourning. According to the members of the association who participated in the workshops, it was very gratifying for them to provide a different vision to future nursing professionals, about life and death, grief, compassion, listening, empathy, and presence, highlighting the interest they managed to awaken in the students regarding these topics which comes from their own experiences.

Workshop in action at the ....

Workshop in action at the ….

Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha

Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha

 

Our partners in Windheim shared experiences of two lecturers whose words inspire us to think about the different creative ways we can work together.
First we hear from Margreet Groothuis.

“In my work, I use experiential knowledge in different ways. I provide information about working with experiential knowledge. For example, we created an interactive performance to let first-year social work students experience the impact of ‘experiential expertise’. In guiding the personal and professional development of students, I help them to learn from each other’s experiences and use my own as examples. I am also a co-trainer in training professionals in healthcare and social work to become experts by experience. I first followed this training myself. Now I am participating as a co-trainer, and I am working towards becoming a trainer myself next year. I am constantly looking for ways to make more use of experiential knowledge and experiential expertise in education. This also means, for example, that I work with students to find opportunities to let their specific experiential expertise shine. I am very proud of a social work student with autism who now works in an organization that consists of experts by experience, where he is completely at home. Looking at people from their strengths and not from their limitations, which is what experiential expertise stands for to me.

In the new year, I would like to do more with physical and body-oriented working methods in the development of experiential knowledge. In the expert pool (of experts by experience), I am now working together with a lecturer from the Psychomotor therapy program. I am very much looking forward to working with her on that.”

Also, from Windesheim we hear from Annemieke van Zwol.

“I am working with experiential knowledge in education in various ways. I use my own experiential knowledge and that of students in the personal and professional guidance of my students. I am supervisor of students who are in training to become social workers with experiential expertise, and I teach professionals in health care and social work who want to develop into experts by experience. If it can help someone else, I share some of my own experiences, about how my disruption and recovery interfere with my work and my personal life. I always carry my experiential knowledge with me, those “ so called feelers` are constantly on.

In the new year, I will start again with a group of professionals in the training to become an expert by experience. I am now doing the intake interviews for that. It makes me happy that the experiential knowledge they bring to the table is so diverse. Experiential knowledge is so much more than just mental health care. Experiential knowledge can also be found, for example, in living in poverty or experiences with transgressive behavior. That experiential knowledge is also valuable. Experiential expertise is mainly about being human, about human experiences from which you can learn.”

These accounts provide us with invaluable insights into the benefits of experiential knowledge which is why our project is so important. As reported in our last newsletter we had the opportunity to share our learning through the PowerUs partnership with IASSW (International Schools of Social Work). Throughout 2023, many partners from Erasmus co-presented critical reflections on involvement. Currently the written reflections from these sessions are being compiled into a ‘Social Dialogue Journal’ which will be released online later this year. The success of our collaborations is being noticed, Social Work England, (regulator) invited our contribution as keynote speakers to present for the first time as part of their series of activities and events for world social work week.

 

Hameed Khan, from the Open University lived experience is one of the presenters who has expressed for a long time the value and importance of international connections.

‘As someone with lived experiences of receiving services and support and as a carer for my mum, I am fascinated to hear the other countries experiences of people who use services as well as social workers and educators. We can learn a lot from each other.’

Hameed khan, The Open University, UK

Hameed’s quotes sum up what the Erasmus international partnership is about. We are listening to each other and learning together about our different experiences and how they can underpin higher education.

 

Coming up….

On March 19th, 2024, 10.3-12pm, there will be a presentation on: ‘Exploring the international context for mending gaps in social work education and practice’.
Do sign up and join us: Social Work Week 2024 Programme: Tuesday 19 March – Social Work England

We bring this newsletter to a close with news of our next conference and international event;

 

Experiential knowledge, peer support and education 13-15th May Sweden

From 13 – 15th May, our next international event will take place at Lund University in Sweden. We have an exciting programme, and you are kindly invited to join!

The theme of the conference on the 13th of May is Peer Support and Experiential Knowledge. Key niote speakers are Alie Weerman (experiential knowledge in education), David Tobis (transforming child welfare) and Nicolas Lunabba (peer support and the importance of relationship with vulnerable youth). On 14th and 15th of May there will be seminars in which the results of the different work packages of our project are presented and discussed. The programme includes workshops on didactical methods to work with experiential knowledge, the role of experts by experience in education, teachers experiences, what it takes to include experiential knowledge and experiential learning into the curriculum of social work and nursing.

 

For more information about the Erasmus project contact;Partnership Experiential Knowledge, cofunded by Erasmus+
Jean Pierre jean-pierre.wilken@hu.nl project co-ordinator
Iris van ‘t Wout iris.vantwout@hu.nl project manager

More articles / posts:

Report from Vilnius

The ERASMUS strategic partnership Experiential Knowledge met in Vilnius in May. You can read more here.