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De ontwikkeling van een met onderzoek onderbouwde methodiek voor het meidenwerk

Author:

Judith Metz

Dr. Judith Metz is lector Youth Spot – jongerenwerk aan het Amsterdams Kenniscentrum Maatschappelijke Innovatie van de Hogeschool van Amsterdam., NL
About Judith

Judith Metz is lector Youth Spot – Jongerenwerk in de Grote Stad aan de Hogeschool van Amsterdam.  Door middel van de uit Groot Brittannië overgewaaide partnership approach werkt zij samen met studenten, docenten, promovendi, en professionals aan de professionalisering van het jongerenwerk. Meer dan 15 jaar verricht Judith Metz onderzoek op het snijvlak van wetenschap en praktijk van welzijn en participatie in de Nederlandse samenleving. In dit brede werkveld houdt zij zich bezig met jongerenwerk, sociaal beleid, welzijn, professionalisering en civil society. Boeken van de hand van Metz zijn onder andere: Kleine stappen, grote overwinningen. Geschiedenis van het jongerenwerk (2011), Welzijn in de 21ste eeuw (2011), Het mooie is dat je er niet alleen voor staat. Individuele begeleiding van jongeren (2013) en Volunteering and Youth services (2014).  

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Abstract

The development of a method substantiated by research for girls’ work

This article reports on a study into the possibility of developing a method substantiated by research for girls’ work. It provides an insight into the opportunities and difficulties in building up a knowledge base for open approach methods in the practice of social work. The study was carried out in response to a request by Amsterdam girls’ workers for help in developing an open approach method for this diverse and dynamic practice, which has a history of almost 90 years. A notable characteristic in the practice of girls’ work is that it involves an open approach method. This implies that the professional does not follow a fixed step-by-step plan from a to b. Rather, it involves professional interventions in the social domain with a goal-oriented, process-based, moral and dialogical character.

The background forms the discussion about the knowledge base of the social work. Current models, such as Evidence Based Practice, Practice Based Evidence and Common Factors, are unsuitable for developing a method that is substantiated by research into open approach methods. Neither does the limitation of Evidence Based Practice to a causal series of actions do justice to the complexity and dynamics of open approach methods. Practice Based Evidence does offer sufficient scope for this, but there is insufficient guidance on how the diversity of working methods, target groups, goals and contexts can be captured in one denominator and how this can be substantiated with empirical research. The Common Factors model is interesting as an example of how exactly those factors can be identified as communal within various working methods, target groups, goals and contexts and can be substantiated with research. The problem with this model is that the factors identified, such as the working relationship or the method, are too general to describe and substantiate specifically how girls’ work functions.

Programme Evaluation offers one possible solution because it is involves evaluating programmes that have a social character in practice. When evaluating social programmes, it involves finding a workable balance between two interests and offering pointers as to how this can be achieved. As a means for establishing, also referred to as “solidifying”, the explicit “tacit knowledge”, it proposes methodical principles. These are the guiding principles that form the basis of the methodical action of social professionals in contact with the target group. It is characteristic of methodical principles that they exist alongside each other and are deployed depending on the situation, goal, person and available resources.

The study into girls’ work was carried out in two phases, in cooperation with a master class of ten experienced girls’ workers. Phase 1 consisted of making the practical knowledge of the girls’ workers in Amsterdam explicit through three meetings of the master class, interspersed with a fieldwork period of four months for the interviews and analysis. The first two meetings explored the objectives of girls’ work and identified the possible guiding principles which provided direction when working with girls and young women. On the basis of this, interview guidelines were drawn up for individual interviews with girls’ workers about their practical knowledge of how they approach working with girls and young women. Phase 2 consisted of validating the findings for metropolitan youth work in the Netherlands using ten in-depth interviews with girls’ workers from cities outside Amsterdam. The interviews were analysed according to the Grounded Theory approach. For validation, the completed draft reports were submitted to the members of the master class.

The result of the study is that nine methodical principles were identified, which were substantiated with action knowledge and are valid for metropolitan youth work in the Netherlands. It is the combination of the nine methodical principles – some of which moreover are specific for working with girls or have a sex-specific interpretation – that makes the knowledge developed specific for girls’ work. However, this does not yet constitute a method for girls’ work because the explanatory theory is missing. On the basis of the identified objectives and methodical principles, it should be possible to develop a theoretical explanation by means of research into critical studies. The objectives and methodical principles also remain unsubstantiated with empirical research. They are both substantiated with action knowledge that can be generalized for metropolitan youth work in the Netherlands. Moreover, on the basis of the knowledge that has been generated, it is now possible to carry out empirical research.

This article demonstrates that greater attention is urgently needed in order to develop a knowledge base for open approach methods that is substantiated by research. For these types of social work practices, there is still no self-evident manner by which we can work towards working methods that have been substantiated by research. The lack of such an approach relates to three levels: (1) the process of method development; (2) the form for the yet-to-be-established working methods; and (3) the possibilities for substantiation with research. Programme Evaluation with methodical principles may constitute an alternative. In comparison with the existing approaches, Programme Evaluation offers guidance for dealing with the area of tension between the academic quality of the findings and their usefulness in real-life practice. The pragmatic focus on the underlying needs of the parties who are directly concerned could turn out to be a productive route by which to do justice to the complexity, dynamics and specificity of implementation practices and to develop robust knowledge, which is also relevant to the parties who are directly involved. More specific methodical principles both would seem to be valuable as means for making tacit knowledge explicit, and have the potential for solidifying, substantiating and transferring it. This is because they would act as guiding principles to provide direction for methodological action by social professionals in contact with the target group. They exist alongside each other and can be deployed according to the situation, goals, persons and resources available for the range of working methods, target groups, goals and contexts. 

SAMENVATTING

De ontwikkeling van een met onderzoek onderbouwde methodiek voor het meidenwerk

Dit artikel doet verslag van een zoektocht naar de mogelijkheden voor het ontwikkelen van een met onderzoek onderbouwde methodiek voor het meidenwerk. Het geeft inzicht in de mogelijkheden en moeilijkheden voor het opbouwen van een kennisbasis voor open benaderingswijzen in de praktijk van het sociaal werk. De aanleiding is het verzoek van Amsterdamse meidenwerkers om hulp bij het ontwikkelen van een met onderzoek onderbouwde methodiek voor een bijna 90-jarige diverse en dynamische praktijk. De achtergrond vormt de discussie over de kennisbasis van het sociaal werk. Gangbare modellen als “evidence-based practice”, “practice-based evidence” en “common factors” worden besproken op geschiktheid voor het ontwikkelen van een met onderzoek onderbouwde methodiek voor open benaderingswijzen, waarna programma evaluatie als mogelijk alternatief wordt uitgediept. De conclusie is dat er vooral met betrekking tot open benaderingswijzen binnen het sociaal werk dringend meer aandacht nodig is voor het proces van methodiekontwikkeling en de wijze van onderbouwing. De eerste ervaringen met programma evaluatie en het daaruit voortvloeiende model van methodische principes zijn voorzichtig positief. Programma evaluatie lijkt handreikingen te bieden voor het omgaan met het spanningsveld tussen de wetenschappelijke kwaliteit van de bevindingen en de bruikbaarheid voor de praktijk. Methodische principes lijken waardevol als drager voor het expliciet maken, stollen, onderbouwen en overdragen van kennis. 

DOI: http://doi.org/10.18352/jsi.431
How to Cite: Metz, J., (2016). De ontwikkeling van een met onderzoek onderbouwde methodiek voor het meidenwerk. Journal of Social Intervention: Theory and Practice. 25(1), pp.47–70. DOI: http://doi.org/10.18352/jsi.431
Published on 22 Mar 2016.
Peer Reviewed

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