Our names are Jessica Manta-Meyer, Jocelyn Atkins and Saili Willis and we are evaluators at Public Profit, an evaluation firm with a special focus on out-of-school time programs for youth.
We usually evaluate networks of after school programs as a whole (some of which serve more than 20,000 youth, where a survey is indeed one of the best approaches). However, we particularly enjoy opportunities to build the capacity of youth programs to solicit feedback through creative ways that align with best youth development practices.
Here are some of the methods that have been most popular with these programs:
Cool Trick – Journals: At the start of a program, provide journals for all youth in the program and ask them to write something related to the program goals. Is one of the program’s goals to develop leadership skills? They can ask the youth to respond to this question: “In what ways are you a leader?” Is one of the goals to increase enjoyment of reading? “What do you like about reading?” Then, at the end of the program, youth can read what they wrote the first day and write “How would you answer that question differently, now?” or some other question to get them to reflect on how they’ve changed in the program.
Cool Trick – Candy surveys: Ask students to answer surveys questions by putting certain colors of candy in a cup then tally the candy colors to get your responses. Have the youth tally the results themselves. They can even make a bar chart on chart paper by taping the actual candy to the paper. The youth can then eat the candy after they’ve tallied the results.
Hot Tip – used wrapped candy! Starburst works well and is what this summer program used:
Cool Trick – 4 Corners Activity: Youth leadership programs do this all the time. They ask youth to “take a stand” next to signs that are marked Strongly Agree, Agree, Disagree or Strongly Disagree in response to a statement like “youth should be able to vote at age 16.” Once the youth stand next to one of the signs, the group can talk out their different perspectives. Programs can also use this to collect both quantitative (how many stand where) and qualitative (what they say about why they are standing where they are) data.
Hot Tip: For more Creative Ways, come to our Skill-Building Workshop Saturday at 8am. Yes, it’s early, but we promise to have you moving, interacting and creating. Plus, there will be candy.
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