Research doesn't always have to be boring surveys and questionnaires, although they do help contribute to the pot of knowledge. We like to use really creative ingredients in our evaluation soup that engages our clients as much as possible. We like to ensure their voices comes through loud and clear. Just like a tasty consume soup.
We also focus on engaging children we work with in any evaluation, whatever their capacity. This is so they are able to shape what we do and how we do it. We do this by using creative techniques such as the wonderful draw and write technique. This was developed by the awe inspiring Noreen Whetton at the University of Southampton in the 1980's. It has since been used in thousands of projects world wide to ensure the voices of children are able to make an impact.
Sadly more and more funders are wanting to see techniques such as randomised controlled trials to prove outcomes. There is a real lack of understanding that we might be able to prove if a pill is effective or not, but ultimately this method proves nothing but impossible to determine social outcomes from the human condition. Just far too many variables to account for.
One method we do like to use is Discourse Analysis. Often psychosocial programmes such as the ones we deliver are intrinsically linked to the power and control exerted by institutions on an individual. These are things they (and we) are often not even aware of. So, we like to use a research method called Discourse Analysis to really surface insights into the impact of our programmes and how they might effect outcomes for our clients. This helps us understand far more about how to develop our work than a survey alone. It makes sure that clients voices are not only heard - but acted on.
Here is a link to a short video I prepared for any of our funders or clients explaining what discourse analysis is about.