My name is Laura Pryor, and I am a recent alumna of The American Evaluation Association’s Graduate Education Diversity Initiative (GEDI) program. My experience in the GEDI program largely focused on culturally responsive evaluation. As a result, my current work considers and prioritizes several methods to apply culturally responsive practices. Most recently, I incorporated the ‘Photovoice’ method into an evaluation of a boys and men of color youth program.
By definition, Photovoice “utilizes photographs taken by program stakeholders to enhance need assessments, discussions and reflection, gather data, promote dialogue, conduct participatory evaluations and communicate results with various audiences, including policymakers.” Caroline Wang originally developed Photovoice in the 1990s as a mechanism to empower marginalized groups through participatory research; participants identify, represent, and improve their community through this visual documentation.
Hot Tip – Consider the Participant Population: While Photovoice templates are helpful, each project will require materials and instructions specific to the participant population. Before implementing the project, review project documents with stakeholders to ensure that materials are relevant to the population context.
Hot Tip – Invest Participants: Establish a common set of ‘Photovoice Project Goals’ with participants and suggest that they self-select who will take the photos (if not all participants can receive cameras).
Hot Tip – Conduct Culturally Responsive Follow-up Interviews: Conduct and record follow-up interviews with each Photovoice participant to understand the story behind each photo taken. Number each photo and bring tape/pins to arrange photos on a wall; make notes on each photo as participants are explaining his or her Photovoice experience. Use quotations and corresponding photos to support evaluation findings.
- The California Endowment’s handbook entitled: Storytelling Approaches to Evaluation provides a great explanation of the benefits and best practices for using visual documentation in program evaluation.
- Photovoice.org offers a number of free online resources to assist with designing and implementing a Photovoice project. These resources are intended to empower issue affected communities and marginalized individuals.
The often diverse group of program participants and staff associated with community-based programs calls for culturally responsive evaluation tools to accurately represent the participant perspective. I find that that the Photovoice approach provides an appropriate medium to communicate this portion of an evaluation.
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