Evaluation of the sessions

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Evaluation of a workshop is an invaluable part of the learning process which provides insights for both the facilitators and participants. Evaluation can help achieve a range of different objectives:

  • Help facilitators gauge how much participants have learned, and what areas are still to be covered
  • Help participants reflect on what they have learnt
  • Provide feedback from participants in order to improve future workshops
  • Create an opportunity to recognise and value everyone’s contribution
  • Close the session in a meaningful way, drawing together the key points, rather than ending in an abrupt or inconclusive manner

There are two ways of encouraging evaluations:

  1. Quick evaluations at the end of the day (or these could be used at the beginning of the next day, though the immediacy factor is important), and
  2. Detailed evaluation at the end of the workshop

1 Quick evaluations at the end of each day

At the end of the day, each person in turn (including the facilitator)

  • Gives one word to express how s/he feels about the day’s events
  • Name one thing that you liked the most, and the one thing you least liked
  • Gives three adjectives to describe the atmosphere in the group

Any one of the above options can be used per session. It would perhaps not be as useful to use all three in one instance.

This is also a good opportunity to ask participants to reflect on anything they may have written in their 'course diary' [See the 'Getting Started' Session]. Participants should be encouraged to make suggestions for the remaining days, in case the course is not going to meet some of their expectations.

Another method that worked well in some of our workshops was the 'post-it exercise'. On the wall we stuck a chart paper divided into two columns- ‘I wish to know’ and ‘I now know’. Participants were encouraged to leave post-its for others with any queries and/or questions. These were reviewed by participants on a daily basis and the post-it moved to its appropriate place.

On all days, the facilitators are encouraged to end the day by thanking the whole group for their participation and contributions.

2 End of the workshop evaluation

In our workshops we tended to use a paper-pencil method for this evaluation. This was particularly useful where it is considered inappropriate or disrespectful to criticize someone in person, even if done constructively. These paper-based evaluations provided participants a degree of anonymity which some found useful. You might find it useful to consider an example of the evaluation form handout we used for these workshops. Another advantage of this method is that it is relatively easy to summarise responses, for example to send to funders (or to feedback to this web-site to help us improve the manual for future use.)

In addition to the paper-based method we have tried to supplement it with an open group discussion (on the themes identified in the paper-based questionnaire). These discussions cane be conducted by the participants in the absence of the facilitator(s) and one of them takes the responsibility of giving a collective feedback.

A more involving task can be a small group activity for the participants (an example of which is given below).

Activity based evaluation: Throw out or keep

Place a cardboard box with a hole cut into it in the middle of floor (with a sign stating 'scrap'). Give each participant four pieces of paper and ask them to write or draw anything they have experienced in the workshop that they would like to leave behind when they go home, and anything they would like to keep and take home with them. The thing(s) that they would like to throw out can be put in the 'scrap' box. Then ask them to share with the rest of the group the things(s) that they would like to keep.

We felt that all our participants valued an appreciation of their involvement. In most of the workshops we ended the session by giving each participant a certificate of attendance.

Cc-by-nc-sa-narrow.png Singal, N., and Jeffery, R. (2008). Qualitative Research Skills Workshop: A Facilitator's Reference Manual, http://oer.educ.cam.ac.uk/wiki/RECOUP, Cambridge: RECOUP (Research Consortium on Educational Outcomes and Poverty, http://recoup.educ.cam.ac.uk/). CC BY-NC-SA 4.0. (original page)