Context and aims
A framework has been developed to map the existing tools that are used both in de Stap and de Leerwinkel. Within it, different steps in the guidance process are identified:
- exploring the self (competences, interests, values and beliefs, self-confidence, studying skills)
- exploring the environment (information on education and training, information on sectors and professions, conditions and obstacles, personal network)
- crystallising, choosing and binding.
Both de Leerwinkel and de Stap have carried out mapping process of all tools they are using throughout the guidance process to identify suitable tools for each phase in the guidance process.
The existing registration system of de Leerwinkel has been adapted to the needs of the GOAL project, allowing for the registration of the monitoring data required for the evaluation and also for the registration of steps taken in the guidance process. The aim here was to improve the quality of the process and to better follow up on the results of the sessions and the agreements made with the client.
Different information and referral tools for stakeholder partners have been developed and/or improved by de Leerwinkel (cf. above).
New communication tools (What’s App and Facebook) were successfully tested and integrated by de Stap as part of their communication strategy with clients, to keep in touch more easily to follow up on progress and motivation.
Within the GOAL project a guidance flow chart has been developed based on the experiences of the GOAL counsellors throughout the project. The development of this flow included reflection on the guidance process in order to make counsellors aware of the most important steps to be taken in de process. It is to be used as a supportive tool rather than a step-by-step instruction manual for a (new) counsellor.
Tool selection, development and use
GOAL counsellors can use different tools to support guidance and orientation. Not every tool is as useful for every counsellor with every client. Much depends on the profile and needs of the client. The counsellor’s profile also influences the usefulness of the tool.
Tools are a means to support the achievement of a certain aim. Therefore:
- The prescriptions about the use of tools must not be too rigid or strict.
- Tools must be as user-friendly as possible. Especially the currently used data monitoring system partially fails, because, in gathering data needed for the evaluation of GOAL, it gathers more information than relevant to guidance and orientation towards adult education while some data that are relevant for monitoring (such as qualifications) are difficult to collect in the current system.
- Information on websites of other organisations must be kept complete and up to date.
Strengths and achievements
Generally speaking, tools help counsellors to improve the service provided to clients. However, staff members believe in a balanced use of tools: scripts for guidance and individual action plans are useful, but they should not be too rigid and strict.
Some guidance tools, like text messages or certain information on the internet, seem obvious and therefore they are not always thought of as tools. However, their usefulness to GOAL should not be underestimated. The use of social media and micro-contacts facilitate the work of counsellors as they keep the counsellors updated about their clients and provide a way to counsel on a micro-level. It allows the counsellor to quickly check the motivation or the progress of the client and it gives the client a great sense of being supported.
The use of tools such as shared agendas and monitoring systems reduces certain barriers for clients and facilitate the counselling process.
Challenges and barriers
Attention should be paid to the side effects in the use of social media, more, such as boundaries in terms of time and personal space. Tools which provide data are not always easy for the counsellors to use. The use and analyzation of data requires additional time investment, supplementary expertise and knowhow.