Once you start gathering information together, you can find you have so much, you do not know here to start. It is a good idea to get organised early to make sure information does not get lost and you do not get confused.
A few top tips…
- Choose one person to collect the information.
- Be clear about what information gets stored and where. If you keep personal information, make sure you put a data protection policy in place.
- Record details of each activity. Most things are likely to be entered onto a PC in either a word document, Excel or database.
- Name it and file it clearly. It is a good idea to think about how someone would find it if you were not available to ask.
- It is helpful to think about how you are going to use the information and the best way to present it.
- If you are collecting information from lots of groups, try to use a simple template into which you can type the information for each group. For example use common headings. Write up your notes as soon as possible after each session.
- Collect evidence in different ways. Consider taking digital photos of notes and flip charts to record what people said. If suitable, use IT, such as SurveyMonkey.
Who was involved?
It is easy to forget the basics when starting out. It is a good idea to keep a record of all the important information from the start for all your activities. This will mean you will be able to give a general picture of all the work you have done. This may include sorting by event, by place, by individual, by group, by the time and date. Sort your information in ways useful for you . To do this you will need to make sure you collect information such as:
|How many people were asked?|
|How many were male and female?|
|How many were in each what age group?|
|Where they were from (e.g. their post code, street, village or town).|
|Were they a member of a certain group? For example, were disadvantaged or minority groups represented?|
|Times and Dates|
You can do choose one of the following methods to record info for each of the tools
Have a scribe record on flipchart
Take digital photos
Use a digital voice recorder
Collect in paper based tools items
Collect in each groups piece of work
Record on your own master sheet
|Bricks in the wall||✔||✔||✔|
|Close to the goal||✔||✔||✔|
|Hot spots and grot spots||✔||✔||✔||✔|
What do you with your results?
When you have finished gathering all the information you will need to gather it and present it so it is meaningful.
If you gathered information from lots of groups you will need to add your number together to get a total.
It is also a good idea to start to represent your results in percentages so you can easily compare your results before and after.
Qualitative & quantitative data
A simple way to understand quantitative data is to know the information it gives you is numerical (numbers), and qualitative is when the information is in words.
You can use different tools to change some qualitative information into quantitative data.
How? You might use the outcome star for people to record if they feel they are better at managing money. If 50 people used the outcome star, and 40 reported they were better at managing money, you can say, 40 or 80% of people you worked with reported they were better at managing money. That sounds like a great outcome!
If the information collected is in words then group the ideas into themes to make it easier to get a clear picture of it. Some people suggest you summarise the results of the information on one page, so you can easily see it.
You can also enter it into a web-based tool to pick up some common themes. For example, Wordle is great for generating ‘word clouds’ from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source.
If you use digital photos you still need to work out how these results can be collected and represented to tell a story. If you use digital recorders you need to scribe it.
If you want to find out more about visit: Evaluating Community Projects from the Community Tool Box .