YFE Week: Susan Igras on Engaging Youth in Program Evaluation When Research is the Main Objective

My name is Susan Igras, a Senior Advisor at the Institute for Reproductive Health, Georgetown University whose work is mainly focused in Africa and Asia.  One of our projects is operating in urban-poor areas of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo.  Designed to evaluate scalable interventions that address social and normative factors that limit adolescent and youth choices and sexual/reproductive health outcomes, we are challenged with fitting youth engagement into the research and evaluation process.  Everyone likes the idea, but how can you operationalize it without jeopardizing the externally-implemented research component?

Staff from participating organizations sat together to brainstorm a way forward; we decided we could focus youth evaluation on questions relating to improving program design, youth engagement, and implementation.  We ended up creating tables that allowed us to get practical:

Evaluation questions |data sources | youth role in designing data collection tools | and youth role in collecting data to answer the questions.

This seemingly-simple planning exercise was critical to move from a nice idea to an actionable evaluation activity.  We are still working on making all steps as youth-led as possible – stay tuned for a blog from one of our youth evaluators!

 RAD resource – for those of us working in French-language contexts:

http://www.troussemj.ca/content/page-de-renvoi – See the chapter on youth-led evaluation in this practical toolkit for engaging youth in mental health issues.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Youth Focused Evaluation 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.


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