Wow! What an empowerment evaluation day we had today!
We were greeted by Arkansas dignitaries Dr. Charity Smith, former Assistant Commissioner for the Arkansas Department of Education and former Representative Fred Allen. They were so impressed with our work that they wanted to see first hand how we accomplish so much in tobacco prevention in the State. They were even kind enough to take a commemorative group shot of us together.
If that were not enough to make our day, we were introduced to Google Glass. Dr. Fetterman demonstrated how the tech tool works.
“Ok, glass – take a picture.” The pair of glasses took a picture by voice command and with a swipe of the finger emailed it and posted yet another picture to our site. We passed it around and experimented with the new device (just being sold on the market as of yesterday).
The group immediately recognized the potential for evaluation use. It was tremendous. The group could see how it could be used to document site visits, share preliminary findings, and even stream video for spontaneous training opportunities.
The April 17 workshop coincided with Dr. Fetterman’s AEA365 blog posting about the use of Google Glass (April 17 and 18, 2014). The blog posting was shared with the group as part of the workshop. It is at: http://aea365.
What a way to begin the day.
After things settled down, we got back to business (well additional business) and focused on closing the gap between our 3rd quarter performance and our end of the year (June) goals.
We discussed our individual 3rd quarter performance, noting where some of us had already exceeded our annual goals, including establishing smoke free policies and creating smoke free parks.
We also examined evaluation dashboard case examples documenting where we were not meeting our benchmarks.
We used art as a way to talk about why we were not meeting our benchmarks, the obstacles we faced, and generally what was not working and impeding our work. We broke into small groups and drew pictures of our problems.
One work of art depicted a “tale of two cities.” It highlighted one side of the street with ample resources and the other side with few resources and opportunities. The side of the street with inadequate resources is where one of the groups worked. The picture captured complex social conditions. It explained why they had to focus on building capacity while working to accomplish specific outcomes. This safe way of discussing the social context helped them launch into ad discussion about solutions that matched the community needs and capacity, before launching monumental initiatives.
Other artwork depicted more practical problems such as the need for translation (Spanish and Marshallese), convincing pastors to establish smoke free churches and parking lots (especially if they are smokers), problems implementing the 40 days program – a faith based approach to smoke cessation, problems tracking fax referral forms for the Quitline, convincing store managers to comply with signage and perimeter laws, and not having enough time in the day to accomplish all of our objectives.
In each case, the art work broke things up in the afternoon and provided the group with a creative and fun way to discuss obstacles and problems they encounter on a routine basis. It also provided a basis for group problem solving.
We didn’t stop there. We also shared conventional high powered tools and resources, including:
Arkansas Department of Health web site
Center for Disease Control and Prevention monographs (such as Key Outcome Indicators, Developing an Effective Evaluation Plan, and Introduction to Process Evaluation)
Center for Disease Control and Prevention sites (such as the States Tobacco Activities Tracking and Evaluation System)
How could I forget – we also celebrated our forthcoming chapter. It is titled: "Empowerment Evaluation and Capacity Building in a 10-Year Tobacco Prevention Initiative" (Fetterman, Delaney, Tremain, and Evans-Lee).
The chapter is in Empowerment Evaluation: Knowledge and Tools for Self-assessment, Evaluation Capacity Building, and Accountability (Fetterman, Kaftarian, and Wandersman, 2014). It will be out in October 2014.
We concluded with a few more tech tools of the trade, such as online surveys, word clouds, digital photography, and videoconferencing (Skyping and using Google Hangout with colleagues in Africa during the breaks). (William Saisi Mengich from Keyna - let us know if you received our video message as well.)
You know we couldn’t leave before talking about infographics and data visualization right? The CDC has some great infographics and there are a few sites to help us make our own infographics, including visual.ly and infogr.am.
Looking forward to moving beyond our individual performance measures and synthesizing the dashboard data across agencies to see where we are as a group in the 3rd quarter. Time to close the gap between our current performance and our annual goals.