YFE TIG Week: Julie Poncelet on Participatory Methods to Engage Youth in Evaluation

My name is Julie Poncelet and I am co-founder of Action Evaluation Collaborative (AEC), a partnership of independent consultants who use evaluation to strengthen social change. We want to share some of the participatory methods we use to engage youth in evaluations.

By participatory methods, we mean ways of working together, to gather insights, such that everyone, including program participants, are involved and play an active and influential part in decisions that affect their lives. Methods include a variety of tools or exercises to engage youth in meaningful, age-appropriate ways.

Last year, AEC blogged about the use of Participatory Video (PV) with a youth group in Mexico. Although we are not always able to engage youth in PV for evaluation, we do video document (with permission) all of our participatory engagement work so that the voices and experiences of youth can be brought into the collective analysis and sensemaking process. In addition, we also encourage the active participation of youth in such processes directly so that insights can be contextualized and dialogued enriched. However, the power dynamics between youth and adults should be considered, especially when working internationally.

Hot Tip: In our evaluation work, we use a range of visioning tools, adapting activities like force field analysis, fish and boulders (which we called butterflies and stones) or road journey to explore girls’ individual and collective aspirations. These tools help us, as well as the girls and program implementers, to better understand the current status of girls in the community and conditions or forces that support them to achieve their vision or hold them back. A little bit of paper, some cut out butterflies, and scented markers can create a fun, energizing space for girls to safely explore and share their insights.

  • One key lesson learned from doing this type of visioning work with girls from marginalized communities is that many have not had the opportunity to explore their aspirations and so it may be challenging for them at first to engage with the activity. We have found that conversation, especially around what girls like (or don’t like), what they are curious about, and who they look up to, can help girls to reflect or think more deeply about their dreams.

Rad Resources: We have used Liberating Structures in some of our evaluations working with older youth and have found the following to provide an energizing structure to facilitate the quick generation and sharing of ideas: 1-2-4-All and Mins Specs. We have also used storyboarding (Liberating Structures version and from Dr. Kim Sabo Flores’ book) and other drawing activities to engage youth in sharing experiences, feelings and attitudes.

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 aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.