Transformative learning; how to prepare students for collaboration with stakeholders

Keynote video and questions answered
Liesbeth Noordergraaf-Eelens

With impact-driven education, we encourage collaboration between students and the outside world. But how do we properly prepare students for such collaboration? What kind of impact does it have on the individual, and how can we help students cope with the uncertainty of knowledge that they will encounter outside university?

Keynote Liesbeth

During our event on Transformative Learning, Liesbeth Noordegraaf-Eelens highlighted how we as a university can approach this collaboration. You can watch her keynote here. Afterwards, participants had the chance to ask questions. Since we had a busy schedule, we made a selection of questions for Liesbeth to answer after the event: 


How to approach the transformation of the student? Is it a process of its own or a process that the teacher needs to guide?

“Both. What I think is important is that as a teacher you can play a part in the transformation. You can encourage students to become more critical, you can students show things about themselves and society they didn’t realize beforehand, etc.”

Having a seat at the table is crucial, but what are the steps necessary to get to that seat?

“First of all, awareness that a seat at the table is required and that the use of the knowledge you have is not self-evident. Secondly, being able to communicate with and listen to other people ‘at the table’, or to those who also want to have a seat at the table. You must be able to position yourself towards them and show why the knowledge and skills you bring are valuable and should be valued.”

How can we combine the need from society to look at and think of certain challenges vs. letting the students have the lead in this?

“Make clear to social partners and students that the challenges are addressed in an educational environment. Students can address societal challenges - and I think they should - but they are here to learn. The creation of the learning environment has priority.”

Is peer feedback also crucial in transformative education? 

“It is important, and in certain settings it will be crucial. It is also dependent upon what you define as peers. Do you mean fellow students? And if you mean students, do you mean students from the same or from different studies? I think peer feedback is always important as it is a great check on whether or not you are able to convey your message and collaborate.”

Are students able to know how their knowledge is of value to society? Sometimes ‘problems’ are not problems for every involved stakeholders

“How your knowledge is valuable to society is something everyone needs to find out, not only students. Looking back at the past year we have seen that this was a continuous struggle. Scientists (and others) thought their knowledge was valuable but this opinion was not shared by everyone. We can encourage students and guide them in thinking how their knowledge can be useful. I think this will also have consequences for the way we will develop knowledge in the future. That’s why for me research and education go hand in hand. Research is education, education is research.”

Transformative Education, as I understand it now, is very much focused on the individual and on the teacher-student relationship. In a course I am involved in, we teach student groups. Is transformative education also applicable on a group level?

“Yes it is. As a group you might go through a transformative process. There could be more attention for group transformation in our curricula. Students will work in groups/teams after finishing their studies, and groups/teams are necessary to make societal change.”

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