The Community gathers to discuss the changing role of the teacher in impact-driven education.

The community for impact-driven education had it’s third event to discuss changing teacher roles. Teacher Atze Bergsma from Erasmus MC shared his experiences with the master program ‘Genomics in Society’, in which he guides students to make impact in a coaching and facilitating way. In his words: the teacher becomes a cheerleader for the students. 

How can we help each other in the design of impact-driven education? That is the question central to the community for impact-driven education. Since this requires different skills from teachers than other forms of education, this meeting was about zooming in on those teacher roles together.

Our speaker Atze Bergsma has been teaching in a new master program in which students identify and work on concrete societal issues in teams, guided by a mentoring teacher and in co-creation with societal stakeholders. This asks different skills of the teacher; not only transferring knowledge but guiding their student’s trough the learning process in a more coaching way. What challenges and opportunities does it bring when you, as a teacher, do not have all the answers or know the outcome either?

Atze has mentoring and intervision sessions, both with the students and the other teachers in the program. When students ask him for answers, he often asks a question back to them that stimulates them and helps them forward. He noticed that these sessions work really well. Of course, they take a lot of time and that would make upscaling a challenge. One of the first questions that arose from the community was: how can we facilitate this in larger groups?

Another community member questioned whether upscaling should necessarily be a goal in impact-driven education, as it simply takes more time and effort. Perhaps there are other courses or projects that are easier to upscale, and we should see programs as a whole. Furthermore, we are in a transition towards making our education more impact-driven and transitions takes time. Atze pointed out that fore example, his students had to get used to their new relationship with teachers at first, but now they are way more accustomed to it.

On top of that, the hidden benefits of this type of education are not always visible but definitely present, such as the networking skills that students acquire. These skills can make other courses in a program easier, which makes them pay off in the end. Not only in terms of a diploma, but also in engagement with society. Stimulating students to become engaged citizens is a role that our teachers seem ready to take on!

Want to join the community for impact-driven education? Please do, everyone is welcome! Send an e-mail to and hopefully we will see you at our next community event on January 30th.

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