Jessica Duda (University of Applied Sciences and Arts Hildesheim/Holzminden/Göttingen (HAWK)

Prof. Dr. Corinna Ehlers (HAWK University of Applied Sciences and Arts Hildesheim/Holzminden/Göttingen)
Topic: Designing strengths work virtually as a component of personality development in social work studies
Language: English 


Strengths work is a central component in working with people and should therefore also be considered in education. Since 2016, the Faculty of Social Work and Health at the HAWK (University of Applied Sciences and Arts Hildesheim/Holzminden/Göttingen) has had a teaching and learning space in the form of the HAWK ‘Strengths Lab’ in which students have the opportunity to try out strengths work in practice. For this purpose, a special offer was designed for students with a strengths course-workshop (Ehlers, 2019b).
The interdisciplinary and cross-faculty project ‘hands on’ (hybrid action spaces to strengthen social-emotional learning processes in the social and health sciences) at HAWK focuses on social-emotional learning processes by developing new virtual action spaces.
In the context of the ‘hands on’ Subproject 2, a program is being developed that focuses on the importance of personality development in higher education via the Student Life Cycle. The focus is on the promotion of self and social competencies. Elements of the ‘Strengths Lab’ will be implemented in Subproject 2 to provide virtual opportunities for strengths work to students.
The ‘Strengths lab’ at HAWK as a teaching and learning space aims to teach students the philosophy, working principles, and methods of strengths-based social work (Ehlers, 2019a; Saleebey, 2009). As a first step, the personal strengths of the students are explored (Ehlers, 2019b). Through the ‘hands on’ project, opportunities are created to transfer strengths work from face-to-face spaces, such as synchronous workshops, to virtual spaces. This will create new hybrid teaching and learning spaces and enable ansynchronous strengths work, allowing HAWK to meet the growing demands of a hybrid university.
The conceptualization of the strengths-based program (Subproject 2) within the project ‘hands on’ is based on an internal context analysis (Kuckartz, 2018) of HAWK as well as a student survey from the HAWK study programs Social Work and Health in the summer semester 2022. In addition, a survey of staff members was conducted in the winter semester 2021/2022.
The results of the survey of students show that they particularly want support in coping with stress / study sections with increased workload and emotional support in their studies. In addition, students’ interest in support services was in planning a career path along their interests, strengths, and personal requirements. Strengths work is therefore gaining importance as an important component of personal development in studies (Studer et al., 2019). Through the project ‘hands on’, asynchronous strengths work in virtual spaces of action is enabled to meet the assessed needs of students and to design new virtual teaching and learning spaces that strengthen social-emotional learning processes. By promoting individual strengths, students are empowered to pursue personal (study) goals and to contribute their competencies to their studies. A formative evaluation of the project in the summer semester 2023 and winter semester 2023/2024 will show how the implementation on the virtual campus could be realized and whether social-emotional learning can be successfully promoted through the initiated offers.
Ehlers, Corinna. (2019a). Stärken neu denken. Die Kunst der stärkenfokussierten Zielarbeit in sozialen Handlungsfeldern. Leverkusen-Opladen: Verlag Barbara Budrich.
Ehlers, Corinna. (2019b). Stärken-Parcours. Die eigenen Stärken erkennen. Hochschule für angewandte Wissenschaft und Kunst: Hildesheim/Holzminden/Göttingen.
Kuckartz, Udo. (2018). Qualitative Inhaltsanalyse. Methoden, Praxis, Computerunterstützung. Weinheim, Basel: Beltz Juventa.
Saleebey, Dennis. (2009). The Strengths Approach to Practice Beginnings. In: Dennis Saleebey (Hrsg.), The Strengths Perspective in Social Work. (5. Aufl., S. 93–107). Boston u. a.: Pearson Education.
Studer, Judith, Abplanalp, Esther & Disler, Stephanie. (2019). Persönlichkeitsentwicklung in Hochschulausbildungen fördern. Aktuelles aus Forschung und Praxis. Bern: hep Verlag.