What characterizes an excellent social worker? Perceptions of teachers in contrast to the working field

Mirte Achterkamp, Carolien Rijkens, Patricia Robbe, Inge Wijkamp, Marca Wolfensberger

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The Hanze University Groningen offers more than 60 different honours programmes for students who want to do more than the regular programme offers them. In these programmes, students are guided to become an excellent professional. Competencies defining an excellent professional were assessed in a previous research by means of focus group discussions and Delphi survey with professionals and experts in the social worker field, resulting in a profile of the excellent social worker consisting of 6 domains.

Our aim is to investigate the opinions of the teachers at the faculty Social Work regarding the profile of the excellent social worker. In addition, we aim to explore how teachers recognize, acknowledge and encourage excellence among their students.

The Delphi method was used to investigate the opinions of the teachers. All teachers of Social Work Department were invited to fill in a survey giving their opinion on the excellent social worker profile as stated by the professionals. The teachers were asked to choose whether each domain was “essential”, “important but not essential” or “not needed” for an excellent Social Worker.

Currently, 35 teachers answered the survey. Teachers agree that the competencies of the profile are essential for an excellent professional, with exception of ‘coaching and supporting your colleagues’. Over 50% of the respondents think that this is important but not essential. More than 90% of the teachers agree that “thinking out of the box” and “having the courage to think of different and innovative solutions” are essential competencies for excellence. In addition, teachers indicated that ethics, internationalization and entrepreneurship are missing in the profile.

To conclude, the profile is acknowledged by teachers with broad support. In the next stage of the research, teachers will be asked about how they stimulate these competences by students. The research will be completed in June.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016
EventUtrecht Honours Conference 2016: Honours Futures - Utrecht Science Park, Utrecht, Netherlands
Duration: 2 Jun 20163 Jun 2016


ConferenceUtrecht Honours Conference 2016


  • social workers
  • excellence
  • honors education
  • teachers' perspectives


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