Hi, I’m Nicole Turcheti and I’m a social research scientist at Public Health – Seattle King County. I am the lead evaluator for the Trauma-Informed and Restorative Practices (TIRP), one of county’s strategies within the Best Starts for Kids initiative. Working with community, it became clear that not fully understanding what evaluation is and what it entails is one of the main barriers for folks to give inputs to the evaluation. In response to that, I developed some tools to better communicate what the steps of the evaluation are and how the data the community provides us will be used to inform the evaluation.
Having community residents participate is essential to the TIRP evaluation, which is intended to build upon community knowledge to shed light on the programs’ implementation, outcomes and opportunities for improvement. Hopefully these resources can support you in providing the pathway for communities to bring their voices to your evaluation!
Rad Resource: Nicole Turcheti’s Rad Resource for Participatory Evaluation – You can download this resource to see all of the details and visuals.
- Use metaphor to explain evaluation
I work with communities that have been historically marginalized and, while discussing the purpose of the evaluation, they expressed that “we want to tell our story!” This inspired me to describe the evaluation to them through the metaphor of a story. I explained what the different steps of evaluation are by conveying them as the different steps it would take to write and tell a story with data. Slide 1 shows these different steps. I used them also when building the timelines (slide 4).
- Highlight the community’s contribution to evaluation
Another thing that I learned in the process of a participatory evaluation is that sometimes these partners did not even realize that they were contributing to the evaluation. I wanted to make that clear to folks and show how their ideas were contributing to our efforts to “tell their story”. For that, I listed all the different community events that took place in each of the evaluation phases. Community meetings, advisory board meetings, calls, online surveys – every opportunity to collaborate was listed. This helped folks feel included and have more ownership over the work.
- Use a visual that explains coding to non-technical audiences
I wanted to share with the community organizations how the narrative reports they submitted were going to be used to help us answer the evaluation questions. Slide 3 shows the visual I created to explain how coding works, and how looking at themes across different reports would help us achieve the evaluation goals. This has also reinforced folks’ understanding of why putting an effort to answer the report questions accurately and in detail was so important.
Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to firstname.lastname@example.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.