There are alternatives to the unadventurous options of questionnaires and observational journal notes for gathering evidence. There are other ways to tell our stories, further understanding of peer program impact and generate disability awareness. Within the peer space, there have been a large number of creative options used to tell peer stories and document the positive outcomes from peer programs. Drama, exhibition, and video are imaginative and attractive alternatives to written surveys. Particularly, if you want to share some of the excitement surrounding peer personal growth, telling stories is a great way to achieve this. For example, on the peerconnect site (https://www.peerconnect.org.au/) there are links through to a range of videos on peer support.
Great examples of peer program stories are available at:
- https://vimeo.com/175482986) (benefits from peer support);
- https://vimeo.com/211823631 (a story on how peer support helped a member build a better life);
- https://vimeo.com/244582509 (on staying connected with peer members);
- https://vimeo.com/210181126 (on establishing new peer support group);
- https://vimeo.com/193004242 (on a youth peer support group);
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z43OWZYKv1k (on a deafblind peer support group);
- http://www.cdah.org.au/this-is-my-world (a hip hop peer support film recently launched; and,
- https://vimeo.com/214936558 (a personal story on peer support and volunteering).
While documenting stories in films appears unrelated to our information gathering, they can in fact make a valuable contribution to the evidence we collate. For example, a video case study may form part of the evidence, we can present to the ILC team when documenting the sense of connectedness peer group members feel.
Many other imaginative new approaches can be used to gather information on an indicator. Embracing creative arts in this process offers opportunities for different ways of understanding programs and building knowledge. The creative arts may be used in designing, interpreting, and communicating our assessment process. Creative strategies are advantageous, as they provide an opportunity for participants to portray experience through different art forms, which often reveals insights that they may not have been able to articulate in words, particularly if they have communication challenges. They are also flexible accommodating for people who learn in different ways, who have different cultural backgrounds and/or who are less articulate. You can employ creative strategies, in conjunction with more traditional methods. A selection of challenges may arise from creative strategies. Some participants may be fearful of engaging with art, due to a lack of confidence, or past negative experiences. There are multiple forms of creative strategies, as outlined online (http://mypeer.org.au/monitoring-evaluation/data-collection-methods/). Examples of specific creative strategies for gathering evidence on peer programs include:
- Photographic based strategies:
- Photo mapping – the mapping of some sort of infrastructure on a photo map by participants, such as asking peer group participants to outline the different disability supports available in an NDIS Plan or map their future based on what they know about the life choices and options.
- Photo Essays – A technique used by participants to describe themselves or their own view on something. They take photos; create captions and a description. Peer programs could ask participants to capture a photo essay on what their peer group means to them.
- Photo interviewing – this is the use of photographs as talking points during interviews or to structure discussions, such as in a focus group.
Photo mapping, Photo Essays and Photo Interviewing and discussed at: http://mypeer.org.au/monitoring-evaluation/data-collection-methods/creative-strategies/ and photo mapping at: https://adf.org.au/insights/creative-evaluation/.
- Social network mapping
- Mapping involves the formation of a diagram that shows an individual’s social network. This can go towards gaining evidence on the social links peer group members have now that they are in a group. Thereby, highlighting the support network available to the participant, giving them information about their friendships, families, trust and communication. For example, participants can think of up to five people who they could talk to about their NDIS self-management issues, or up to three people, they talk to about other life decisions.
- Through this, you can also describe a participants’ ‘Circle of Support. The networks can be hand drawn by participants. Using three concentric circles, the participant places the “you” in the middle circle and the first names of close friends and family in the innermost circle, and those who are less close in the outer circle.
Circle of support resources, see: https://www.asid.asn.au/portals/0/conferences/nz2010/circles%20of%20support%20for%20people%20with%20disability%20-%20ainslie%20gee.pdf and http://communitylivingproject.org.au/circles-initiative/ for further details.
- Using this method, a brief description of a specific situation is read. This is followed by multiple-choice questions or a structured interview, where the participant is asked about the situation and their interpretation of it, alongside potential responses, solutions, and even outcomes. For example, a peer group facilitator could be read a scenario about something that may occur in a peer group. From their responses, we then gain an understanding of their possible reactions. This could be used to assess the training and skills of peer facilitators without any need to either, observe the situation within a real group, or rely on self-rated knowledge scores.
- Collage is an example of an arts-based technique that can be used in the peer space to gain feedback and insight about an issue or viewpoint. Collage making involves ‘the cutting out, arranging and sticking down of images/text/drawings/colour that can be taken from a variety of sources. Collage can be as technological sophisticated as you want it to be, with the use of Photoshop and the internet, or as simple as resources dictate, for example, using scissors, paper and glue. The collage making process can generate observable information for analysis, as can the collages constructed also.
See example of collage at https://adf.org.au/insights/creative-evaluation/.
- Digital storytelling and vox pop:
- Digital storytelling involves making a film that tells ordinary people’s real life stories. This involves meaningful workshop processes and participatory production methods. The final product tends to be in the first-person narrative. This technique has been discussed above, and is used widely in the peer space, due to the impact such stories of change can have on various stakeholders and within the wider community.
- The term ‘vox pop’ comes from the Latin phrase vox populi, meaning ‘voice of the people’. Traditionally, the vox pop is a tool used in media research, to provide a snapshot of public opinion. Random participants are asked to give their views on a particular topic: these are then viewed as reflection of popular opinion. This has yet to be used widely within the peer space but could certainly be of interest, if a user-led organisation is trying to gain media content for sharing.
- Other Art forms:
- Dance and drama has been used as a communication form since its inception. The art of dance and everyday movement provide a pattern of meaningful motions of the body that can convey an interpretation of the world we live in. It is feasible for a theatrical performance to be utilised as a representation of data on a group’s expression of their experience, though this has yet to be used in the peer space. Telling a story through writing and performance can be an effective way to explore personal or group experiences and has been used widely in the disability sector.
See Tutti for stories: http://tutti.org.au
- Sculpture techniques have been used as a way to express feelings, and it is possible that peer groups could engage this type of artwork to express information about their peer groups. Sharing the results could form the basis for learning, understanding and action. Clay is a particularly suitable material for this process given its suitability for cutting, pounding, prodding, stabbing, squeezing, shaping, breaking and sticking, making it ideal for the expression of feelings. This may be a helpful strategy, if we are trying to gain insight with individuals, who are unable to communication in other ways.
ADDITIONAL LINKS ON CREATIVE STRATEGIES:
To find out more about how creative strategies can be utilised for evaluation check out the My-Peer Case Study 4 (SEE: ).
If you would like to read further on creative strategies for information gathering that is relevant to the peer space, please explore the following references:
- Dennis, S., S. Gaulocher, R. Carpiano and D. Brown. 2009. Participatory photo mapping (PPM): Exploring an integrated method for health and place research with young people. Health and Place 15: 466-473.
- Chio, V. & P. Fandt. 2007. Photovoice in the diversity classroom.
- McCarty, C., J. L. Molina, C. Aguilar and L. Rota. 2007. A comparison of social network mapping and personal network visualization. Field Methods 19 (2): 145-162.
- Butts, C. 2008. Social network analysis: A methodological introduction. Asian Journal of Social Psychology 11(1): 13-41.
- Foster, S. L., H.M. Inderbitzen and D.W. Nangle. 1993. Assessing acceptance and social skills with peers in childhood: Current issues. Behavior Modification 17 (3): 255–286.
- Borbely, C. J. G., Nichols, J.A., Brooks-Gunn, T., Botvin, J., and Gilbert, J. (2005). “Sixth Graders’ Conflict Resolution in Role Plays with a Peer, Parent, and Teacher”. Journal of Youth and Adolescence 34 (4): 279-291.
- Dodge, K. A. and C. L. Frame. 1982. Social cognitive biases and deficits in aggressive boys. Child Development 55: 163–173.
- Dodge, K. A., C.L. McClaskey and E. Feldman. 1985. A situational approach to the assessment of social competence in children. The Journal of Consulting & Clinical Psychology 53: 344–353.
- Cancienne, M. B. & C.N. Snowber. 2003. Writing rhythm: Movement as method. Qualitative Inquiry 9 (2): 237-253.
- Blumenfeld-Jones, D. S. 1995. Dance as a mode of research representation. Qualitative Inquiry 1 (4): 391-401.
- Hughes, S. 2009. Leadership, management and sculpture: how arts based activities can transform learning and deepen understanding. Reflective Practice 10 (1): 77–90.
SELF STUDY Q5.6
Describe one example of a creative strategy for evidence collection that could be used to explore the reasons your peer group members attend their peer group.
Capsule: To use our compass we need to select an indicator for every objective. The information we collect on that indicator will tell us if we are on track on the journey toward our vision. We can use secondary or primary data to collect, and the most common method to gather attitudinal information is surveys.
When we are gathering evidence, using a single collection method always carries the risk that our data may not be valid. We may be gathering evidence on something we are not expecting. For example, we might think we have evidence of personal growth from peer group attendances but we are actually capturing evidence about the impact of new service provider rollouts. One way of overcoming lack of data validity is triangulation. This is when we use multiple forms of data collection, such as focus groups and surveys as well as, observation, to investigate an objective. Utilising multiple data collection methods leads to more confidence about our findings when evidence from various sources, are comparable and consistent. Using more than one person to collect the data can also increase its reliability. This, however, usually increases the cost of the evaluation.