A lot of ground can be covered during a participatory workshop. Some of the tools, techniques and exercises you try will really fly, others you may find stall or (rarely, it must be said) fail to get off the ground completely. It’s also true that although there can be a satisfying amount of progression through the events, you might, during the course of a workshop, start many potential hares running in several different directions.
For all these reasons it can be useful to devote some time at the end of the workshop to reflecting on and evaluating what has been discussed. The concept of ‘feedback’ is, of course, nothing new in many workshops. But once again we try to do things a little differently and get some richer results than just relying on the traditional “On a scale of one to five how useful was this workshop?” type of approach!
Here are a couple of the evaluation exercises we find useful:
At the very beginning of the day draw a large circle on a piece of flip chart paper and then draw three smaller concentric circles inside it until you are left with something resembling an archery target. Stick the paper on a wall somewhere nice and visible. Every time during the day that an idea is discussed or a technique used (depending on what you are wishing to evaluate) write it on a Post-it Note and stick it just outside the ‘target’.
Then (repeatedly) encourage participants to get up whenever they like and to move any of the post-it notes they have an opinion on either one ring towards the centre (if they like it) or one ring away from the centre (if they don’t like it). By the end of the day you will be able to look at the chart and see at an instant those ideas that have gained traction and those that were not received so favourably.
Unless participants are really into the swing of it, it’s unlikely they will voluntarily leap up unbidden throughout the day (though its a great sign if they do!). You may want to remind them to take a look at the chart before every break to at least ensure a reasonable response.
The shopping trolley’s a great one for getting participants to think about all the content, ideas and techniques they have been exposed to from a variety of perspectives. Without an evaluation technique such as this it’s possible that participants may be tempted to react negatively to an idea not because it is a ‘bad’ idea, but simply because it is not considered a priority for them at this time.
Once again the exercise involved a sheet of flip chart paper. The idea is that each person then writes the ideas/content being evaluated (perhaps taken from an earlier activity) and sticks them on one of the following areas of the picture, each of which denotes a different quality or perspective from which to consider the resource:
- In the trolley - ideas to take away and use later
- On the shopper’s heart - ideas they really loved
- On the shelf - ideas to be revisited and considered again at a later date
- In the bin - ideas they want to immediately discard.
Remember to make each section of the trolley picture big enough, so that it still possible to distinguish each section even when covered in Post-It notes.