In recent SEIL blog posts we’ve discussed who gets to decide what is evaluated, and invited you to weigh up what kind of evaluation might best fit the needs of your social enterprise. Another important factor that is sometimes sidelined is how you ask the questions.
If the planning stages of your evaluation have included meaningful engagement with a broad range of people who are involved with, and impacted by your social enterprise, you are more likely to have some well-informed and relevant questions to work with. The next step is to consider how your evaluation questions can be presented in a way that is accessible to your evaluation participants. For example:
- If you have participants that speak a range of different languages, you might need to:
- have multilingual staff conducting evaluation activities, or
- access interpreters for interviews, or have written information and questionnaires professionally translated.
- If participants have varied levels of literacy, you might need to:
- seek support to ensure that all written communications are in plain and easy to read language, or
- convert written questionnaires into spoken or interactive interview formats, as preferred by participants.
- If barriers to participation are created by discussing topics in a purely abstract format, you might need to:
- include some practical examples of the topics you’re talking about, or
- use images to support understanding and communication.
- If participants are not comfortable using complex rating scales to express their views, you might need to:
Understanding the needs and preferences of your evaluation participants will support meaningful participation, and result in better quality data. In short, it matters how you ask the questions.