Engaging Communities Through Issues Forums

How and When Should We Col lect Data?

Before the Forum Gather information from key stakeholders and informants with key informant interviews or focus groups. You will use this information in the planning of the forum agenda and content. Using a qualitative approach, evaluators use codin g to determine emerging themes. This step also helps to document “where did we start” so that you can show how the forum helped to move participants and the community to a different place. See Appendix 10 for the “Key Informant Interview Questions” and Appendix 11 for the “Focus Group Questions.” Throughout the forum, use quantitative measurements to gauge understanding and willingness to act on the forum topic. We call it a temperature reading. A temperature-reading is a tool to show where the group is in learning and engagement at different points during the day. By rating “learning and willingness to act,” you can determine if the agenda is building the interest in the issue and foundation as intended. By doing this you are helping to show how the forum helped to motivate action and build collective understanding of participants . Samples of these evaluation questions are in Appendices 12 and 13.

Delaware 2018 Forum

Sticky notes were used on the flipcharts to measure willingness to act during face-to-face forums; a polling thermometer was used during an online forum. These tools were used prior to the forum, mid-forum and at the end of the forum to show movement of participant intent over the day's agenda. Sharing documentation with people who attended the forum, with those who were unable to attend, and with interested others requires some evidence that helps to maintain momentum and interest. Collect evidence that you planned to collect and take the opportunity to capture evidence of things not planned for.

Documentation can be done by the following:

• taking pictures to help illustrate the agenda, processes, and the interactions, including photos of the speakers, small groups, flip charts, etc. (Photos from actual forums are used in this guide.) • taking notes from facilitated sessions to share in condensed form • taking notes about things to follow up on and people to follow up with • taking notes to write your own story about the event or for reporting, including interactions you saw, things that surprised you, and things you wished had occurred

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