Creative or alternative methods for collecting data. Surveys, end-of-session questionnaires, interviews and focus groups have become popular ways to collect data. What other ways can you collect data that may be more novel, more appropriate and yield better information?
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Surveys, end-of-session questionnaires, interviews and focus groups have become popular ways to collect data.
Let your mind roam….
Application, registration and scholarship forms
Forms that are completed by members for awards and trips and other things such as camp counselor applications may contain useful data; for example, answers to questions such as “How has 4-H enhanced your problem solving skills?” or, “How would you describe 4-H to a group of peers?” Or, include questions to solicit data you need
Committee and participation lists
You keep a variety of lists that can be used to track numbers and key demographics of who is (and who is not) signing up for what. You can monitor trends over time and get an idea of how youth are perceiving the program.
Take a few minutes and think about the various records and forms you have that either:
Value line or ‘line rating’
Program: Developing club leadership. (Example provided by Mary Klemme)
Part of your educational plan is to conduct some workshops about creating a positive environment for youth leadership development. You want to know how clubs are functioning in this area currently and how effective your workshops are. You decide to use a value line exercise with a sampling of clubs both before and after your workshops.
Count the number of people standing in the different areas and record the numbers. You can also use this process to facilitate discussion about why people took various positions.
How might you use such games as:
to collect evaluation information?
Example. You want to know what the camp experience means to youth. You randomly select a group of campers who are asked to take photos during camp. The photographers then gather in small groups to discuss their photos, why they took the photo, what it means to them, etc. Comments and remarks are recorded.
A qualitative data collection technique that uses photographs to help individuals express themselves more fully when asked questions. The photographs are typically black-and-white images in order to allow viewers to focus on the topic or essence of the photos.
Select photos related to the evaluation topic that will stimulate conversation. For example, if you want to know what youth learned during the Winter Leadership Camp, you might say, “Select a photo that helps you describe what you learned during the leadership camp.”
Record what participants say; analyze the data
You can use photolanguage to assess needs, document outcomes and experiences.
See an article in the Journal of Extension, “Photos can inspire a thousand words” by White, Sasser, Bogren and Morgan, June 2009 http://www.joe.org/joe/2009june/iw1.php
Various forms of creative expression can be used to collect evaluative data to document changes in knowledge, attitudes, skills, feelings and behaviors.
Drawing is a natural mode of expression for boys and girls. It is a nonverbal
Language and form of communication that can be analyzed for structure, quality and content.
Journals are personal and allow youth to think about their experiences, what they are feeling and thinking and provides a useful ongoing account of an activity or experience.
Helping young people journal effectively means more than giving them a notebook. When using journaling to collect evaluation data, be clear about what you want to know and give them a list of questions to address.
Suggest a structure for the journal (or provide pre-printed pages). Space might be designated for days events; feelings about the events; reflection on what was learned; what actions they will take.
You might consider a group journal where all members write and share their experiences and thoughts in a combined effort.
Do a Google search. There are many resources on journaling on the web. One is from the University of Tennessee 4-HYD, titled Reflection journal at
Action cards are index cards on which participants record steps, actions, and accomplishments during the course of a project or program. Individuals or groups write a short entry on each card - a few words or sentences. The cards help to monitor progress, critical incidents and accomplishments.
Youth can fill in the cards at regularly scheduled meetings or specified times. Information on the cards become data for later analysis.
Any of the common group techniques that we use in program planning are also useful for collecting evaluation information: Brainstorming Nominal group technique Delphi technique Affinity diagramming
Participants set their own goal(s) at the beginning of the program (e.g., desired weight change; change in exercise pattern; amount of money to save; increase in public speaking skills, etc). Depending upon the length of the program, you ask them to revisit their goal during the program (record progress) and/or at the end. Progress and achievement are recorded as evaluation data.
This idea may work well with young children. Count out a fixed number of stickers and place the same number in each of three cups (use any number of cups). Label each cup with “learned a lot”, “learned a little”, didn’t learn anything”, or whatever response options fit your question. Ask each youth to take a sticker from the cup that best answers the question you ask (your evaluation questions). Tally after each question. The youth get a fun sticker and you get evaluation data.
Draw a large head, heart and feet on flipchart paper and post it. Distribute small slips of paper and ask participants to write down the major things they learned or got out of the program. Have them post these in the appropriate position on the diagram and discuss them. Record comments.
Or, invite participants to create their own head, heart and feet and fill in the form, either individually or with someone else.
You might want to write: ‘What you think’; ‘What you feel’; ‘What you will do’ next to the head, heart and feet.
Source: Educating for a Change. Adapted from Marsha Sfeir, a Toronto educator.
Three key points:
Another variation for quickly collecting data at the end of a session or program is a card like below:
What is still circling in your mind!
What is squared away with you that you can apply and use?
Here is another version of a card for quickly collecting data at the end of a session or program:
What is one thing you learned (or had reinforced)from going through this presentation that you might try in your own evaluation?
Good luck with your data collection efforts!