Greetings! We are Tom McQuiston (USW Tony Mazzocchi Center) and Tobi Mae Lippin and Kristin Bradley-Bull (New Perspectives Consulting Group). We have collaborated for over a decade on participatory evaluation and assessment projects for the United Steelworkers (labor union). And we have grappled mightily with how to complete high-quality data analysis and interpretation in participatory ways.
Hot Tip: Carefully determine up front what degree of full evaluation team participation there will be in data analysis. Some practical considerations include: the amount of team time, energy, interest, and analysis expertise that is available; the levels of data analysis being completed; the degree of project focus on team capacity-building; and the project budget and timeline. How these and other considerations get weighed is, of course, also a product of the values undergirding your work and the project.
Hot Tip: Consider preparing an intermediate data report (a.k.a. “half-baked” report) that streamlines the analysis process for the full team. Before the full team dives in, we: review the raw quantitative data; run preliminary cross-tabs and statistical tests; refine the data report content to include only the — to us — most noteworthy data; remove extraneous columns spit out of SPSS; and assemble the tables that should be analyzed together — along with relevant qualitative data — into reasonably-sized thematic chunks for the team.
Hot Tip: Team time is a precious commodity, so well-planned analysis/ interpretation meetings are essential. Some keys to success include:
- Invest in building the capacity of all team members. We do this through a reciprocal process of us training other team members in, say, reading a frequency or cross-tab table or coding qualitative data and of them training us in the realities of what we are all studying.
- Determine time- and complexity-equivalent analyses that sub-teams can work on simultaneously. Plan to have the full team thoughtfully review sub-team work.
- Stay open to shifting in response to the team’s expertise and needs. An empowered team will guide the process in ever-evolving ways.
Some examples of tools we have developed — yes, you, too, can use Legos™ in your work — can be found at: http://newperspectivesinc.org/resources.
We never fail to have many moments of “a-ha,” “what now” and “wow” in each participatory process. We wish the same for you.
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