We are Julie Poncelet, Catherine Borgman-Arboleda, and Jorge Arboleda of Action Evaluation Collaborative, independent consultants who use evaluation to strengthen social change. We want to share our experiences using participatory video (PV) in evaluations with youth.
PV is a dynamic, powerful approach whereby youth use video to capture everything from their stories of change to issues that affect their everyday lives to ideas they have to effectuate change in their communities. As pictured below, we recently engaged PV with a group of teens from a community-based NGO in Yucatan, Mexico. Youth produced videos about their dreams and senses of identity. PV is a compelling approach to explore these themes, which emerged from a Theory of Action process with the NGO; specifically identified was the need to have youth analyze critically their communities and find their voices.
PV positions youth as researchers and evaluators of their own communities and supports them to contribute creatively and critically to issues. With PV, youth design, direct, film, and edit videos. They experience empowerment, ownership, and self-esteem rarely garnered from other evaluation approaches. Adults provide technical assistance, build capacity, and facilitate a process for PV to unfold (not to take over the process!). For evaluations, PV creates a space for community members and stakeholders to see the interests and needs of youth in the community and provides a unique platform to reflect collaboratively on meaning and implications.
Lessons Learned: Focus should be on learning the technology and the video storytelling process, as well as providing an appropriate approach for young people to collectively reflect on themselves and their realities. Give youth time to feel comfortable with the equipment and with engaging others in conversation. And remain aware of group dynamics! We often find that boys are more comfortable and will take leadership with technology, so consider breaking groups up by gender.
Consider using a short set of questions that can be asked by youth to stakeholders included in their videos. The insight can help to contextualize the analysis and overall sense-making. The PV process is as much an outcome as the product; engaging in PV is transformative, so don’t worry about getting ‘perfect’ videos.
Hot Tips: Although building a participatory video kit is not cheap, all you really need is a small camera (preferably with projecting capabilities) and a good quality hand held microphone. We have found that when young people hold the microphone, they feel more empowered to speak, so it helps them to find their voice.
The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Youth Focused Evaluation (YFE) TIG Week with our colleagues in the YFE AEA Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our YFE TIG members. 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.