It can be used to monitor and track our progress. It can be a signal that we need help and that we should contact each other first, MISRGO second, and Dr. Fetterman third. The rationale for this is that we want to foster collegial sharing and cooperation among peers first.
We used a weight lifting analogy to highlight the tools we use in evaluation: establish a baseline (how much can you lift now), set a goal (how many pounds do you want to be able to lift in 6 months), set benchmarks (the weight you want to be able to lift by the end of month one, two, three, four, five, and six). Measurement - record the amount of weight you can lift at each interval and compare it with the benchmarks you set to determine if you are making progress or if it is a signal that you need help.
We agreed on a common tool or matrix for collecting and keeping track of our data. It included: goals, benchmarks, actual or current status, and baseline data. It also specified dates for each benchmark as well as numbers (in this case of tobacco-free environments).
We also demonstrated how easily it is to transform this data into bar charts and other easily accessible (and highly visual) formats. We highlighted a comparison of actual performance or accomplishments with our benchmarks to help us determine if we were still on track.
This was a working session and we completed a number of exercises to prepare ourselves for applying these tools to our work.
We practiced presenting our results in front of each other and providing a diplomatic, but honest critique of our work and presentations.
We reminded each other of how important it is to keep track of the number of people their agencies have helped to stop consuming tobacco. We discussed how their was power in numbers since we began merging our data to demonstrate our effectiveness as a MISRGO group across the State (as compared with our individual efforts).
This discussion helped to plant the seed for future collaborations and consolidations. We discussed the potential of merging our data concerning tobacco free environments. We created a model for what that might look like - which would be, once again, more persuasive and impressive that our individual efforts. We also discussed the possibility of doing fewer things but having more activities in common to create a "larger dose effect".
We critiqued our latest reports with the aim of improving them and ensuring that we all had comparable data.
The workshop concluded with a demonstration of our web-based resources including our MISRGO Empowerment Evaluation Blog and Collaborative Web Site. (We added to both the blog and collaborative web site during the workshop to demonstrate how user-friendly both tools are and to document our work while we were in the middle of conducting the training.)
Dr. Fetterman's slides are available on our blog and collaborative web site.