235201 Participatory Evaluation Methods: An innovative approach to indicators in a participatory action research project with young war-affected mothers

Monday, October 31, 2011

Miranda E. Worthen, AB, MPhil , Epidemiology, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA
Angela Veale, PhD , Applied Psychology, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland
Susan McKay, PhD , Women's Studies, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY
Michael Wessells, PhD , Population and Family Health, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, New York, NY
“Participation” is a word that has been used in child protection and development circles for many years. The term has come to mean everything from tokenistic consultation with beneficiary groups to programs where participants exercise full agency and decision-making in program development, implementation, and evaluation. In this presentation, we describe a program on the far end of this spectrum – that is, a program that situated the young participants in the lead role.

We present here the methods used in evaluation of the Participatory Action Research Project with Young Mothers in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and northern Uganda, which took place from 2006 – 2009. The project sought to understand what “reintegration” meant to young mothers formerly associated with fighting or armed groups and other vulnerable young mothers in their communities and to implement social action initiatives designed by these young mothers to promote their wellbeing. The project took place in twenty communities and included over 650 young mothers and 1200 of their children.

We developed two kinds of indicators to evaluate the project as it unfolded and when it was completed. These two indicators, which we labeled “process indicators” and “participatory outcome indicators,” were developed in full collaboration with the young participants and yet provided rigorous tools for evaluating the project's success. We present the process of developing and implementing these indicators and conclude that even when working with illiterate, vulnerable groups, systematic evaluation does not need to come at the expense of participation.

Learning Areas:
Diversity and culture
Program planning
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Design evaluation tools in collaboration with participants in a CBPR project. Differentiate indicators used to evaluate the process of a CBPR project from indicators used to evaluate the outcomes of a CBPR project. Describe how participatory evaluation tools were developed and applied in the Participatory Action Research Project with Young War-Affected Mothers.

Keywords: Participatory Research, Vulnerable Populations

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I participated in design and implementation of this project.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.