Nicole Clark Consulting

Raise Your Voice for Women and Girls of Color

  • 18th June
    2014
  • 18

Try This Activity: Use the Teach Back Method to Improve Your Workshop Facilitation Skills

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(Image credit)

There’s a lot to think about when planning a workshop, and along with making sure we’re as engaging as possible, we get caught up in how we’re delivering our message, that we don’t realize how it’s being received.

Outside of evaluating your workshop, there’s a great tool that’s been used by teachers, healthcare professionals, and social workers alike. It’s called the Teach Back method, and you’re going to start incorporating this into your workshops.

The Teach Back method (also known as the “show me method”, or “closing the loop” is a practice where the facilitator asks the workshop participants to explain a concept or skill based on the workshop topic, essentially taking on the role of facilitator. The Teach Back allows you to gauge your participants’ understanding of a topic or concept. The Teach Back also determines how effective you are at teaching or demonstrating a concept or skill within of your workshop. Merely standing in front of your participants and reciting information, even if you’re engaging them, doesn’t lead to a high increase of behavior change in the long run.

If your workshop participants are able to Teach Back, it means they most likely understand the material, especially since they’re tasked with teaching to their peers.

Along with retaining information, some of the benefits of the Teach Back method include:

  • Participants see themselves as experts, rather than relying solely on the expertise of the facilitator
  • Participants will most likely employ the behavior in real world situations
  • Participants are able to retain information when it’s recited in their own words 

As the facilitator, you also benefit from the Teach Back method:

  • There’s less focus on you being the expert, and more focus on you being a resource
  • You can identify and correct any misunderstandings. If you observe that you have a few participants that also have the same misunderstanding, this gives you the opportunity to re-teach the concept
  • You can tie together your workshop topic and apply key concepts and skills to real world situations that are familiar to your participants
  • You can ask your participants to repeat what you’ve said in their own words

The Teach Back method is often used in healthcare settings as a way for healthcare professionals to confirm that their patients understood what instructions to take to promote health and wellness. A common example is when a doctor is instructing a patient on how to take a particular medication. Instead of expecting an “I understand” answer, the doctor can ask, “So, tell me what you’re going to do with this medication when you wake up tomorrow?” to have the patient repeat back, in her or his own words, how to properly take the medication and to clarify any misunderstandings. 

Here’s how to use the Teach Back method for your next workshop:

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  • 4th June
    2014
  • 04

Ask Nicole: Should Child Protective Services Get Involved When a Young Woman Seeks an Abortion?

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I recently received the following question from a social work graduate student, who recently completed her first-year graduate internship (known as a field placement in social work) at an urban reproductive healthcare clinic:

Hi Nicole!

            I recently finished my first year in graduate school for social work. Coming into social work school, I had a big interest in being in clinical study and I’ve envisioned myself working one on one with adults. I was placed in a local clinic that deals with most healthcare needs, and I was placed in the reproductive health access department as an intern. After being in my placement, I’m starting to gain an awareness of how important access to reproductive healthcare needs are for young people and communities of color, and I’m starting to become more interested in doing community practice instead of working one on one in a clinical setting.

            A few weeks ago, a few classmates and I were reflecting on our field placement experiences. When I mentioned the great experience I had at my placement, one of my classmates told me that it is unethical for social workers to assist in helping people obtain abortions and that we have a duty to report it to Child Protective Services, especially when the person wanting an abortion is a young girl who is being sexually abused. This is based on the NASW Code of Ethic, she says. My classmate said that social workers, above all things, should protect life, and that includes the life an unborn child.

            While I enjoyed my field experience (and, by the way, I also assisted other healthcare needs besides abortion), I’m starting to wonder if my classmate is right. Being that you’re a social worker that has a lot of experience in reproductive rights, can you share your insights?

Thank you!

I was excited when this student allowed for me to share her question. There are several parts to her questions, but before I share my answers, here’s a little background on social workers and our roles in reproductive healthcare:

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) supports policies and legislation nationally and internationally, that recognize a woman’s authority over her own sexual life and reproductive choices, free from coercion, violence, and discrimination. The NASW has also issued their Family Planning and Reproductive Health policy statement in 2006: “Self-determination means that without government interference, people can make their own decisions about sexuality and reproduction. It requires working toward safe, legal, and accessible reproductive health care services, including abortion services, for everyone.” Also, I’ve even written about how I believe social workers should be at the forefront of the reproductive justice movement.

But the student’s question lies here: According to the NASW Code of Ethics, social workers have many ethical responsibilities to our clients, including self-determination:

"Social workers respect and promote the right of clients to self-determination and assist clients in their efforts to identify and clarify their goals. Social workers may limit clients’ right to self-determination when, in the social workers’ professional judgment, clients’ actions or potential actions pose a serious, foreseeable, and imminent risk to themselves or others.”

Look at the second sentence, where I believe the student’s classmate is getting hung up on. What is the NASW’s stance on abortion?

The NASW Code of Ethics doesn’t directly state a stance on abortion access, but rather that clients have the right to choose whichever option is best for their current circumstance.

The student’s classmate also mentions how self-determination should be overruled in cases of a young person seeking abortion care. The answer to this also doesn’t lie within the Code of Ethics, but it does lie within the policies of individual states. For example, in New York State, young people have the right to confidentiality should they choose to seek reproductive healthcare services. As we know, this isn’t the case is many states.

But should social workers start contacting Child Protective Services if they feel that a client’s request to access abortion care poses a serious, foreseeable, and imminent risk to themselves or others?

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  • 30th May
    2014
  • 30

Program Evaluation for Women & Girls of Color: Do You Need Quantitative… or Qualitative Data?

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This is part four in a four-part series on program evaluation, dedicated to organizations and businesses that provide programs and services for women, girls, and communities of color (and for people with an interest in evaluation practice). Throughout this month, I will be discussing certain aspects of evaluation practice –from how I became interested in evaluation, myths about evaluation, knowing what type of evaluation to perform, and bringing your community together to support evaluation – with the intent on highlighting the importance of evaluation not just from a funding perspective, but from an accountability and empowerment perspective.

In Part One, I shared how I got started in evaluation practice. In Part Two, I shared some of the common myths about evaluation that can cause us to look at evaluation negatively. In Part Three, I shared how asking the right questions is the key to successfully evaluating your program or service. 

Now that you’ve determined why you want to evaluate your program or service, and you’ve decided if you should evaluate as the program or service is in the development stages or at its conclusion (or both!), it’s time to determine what type of data you want to collect. 

The Basics

When it comes to research and evaluation, there are two types of data: quantitative data and qualitative data.

With quantitative data, you’re collecting information that can be mathematically analyzed in a numerical fashion. You want to use quantitative data:

*To see what correlations exists between various factors 

*To gather demographics (age, gender, race, grade level, etc.)

*To get the answers for “who”, “what”, and “how many” of an occurrence 

*To draw a more generalized conclusion about a population

You can collect quantitative data through:

*Pre- and post-tests

*Surveys 

*Questionnaires

*Brief telephone interviews or in-person interviews

In comparison, qualitative data is collected when you want to analyze a more narrative form of data that can’t be mathematically analyzed. You want to use qualitative data: 

*To get more in-depth explanations between correlated factors

*To gain insights into behaviors and experiences of a population

*To get the answers for “why” and how” something is occurring 

*To have a “voice” within a population rather than a generalization

You can collect qualitative data through:

*Observation

*Focus groups

*In-depth interviews (with stakeholders, program participants, or staff members for example)

*Case studies 

Here Is an Example of Each

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  • 22nd May
    2014
  • 22

Program Evaluation for Women and Girls of Color: Develop The Evaluation Questions You Want To Answer

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This is part three in a four-part series on program evaluation, dedicated to organizations and businesses that provide programs and services for women, girls, and communities of color (and for people with an interest in evaluation practice). Throughout this month, I will be discussing certain aspects of evaluation practice –from how I became interested in evaluation, myths about evaluation, knowing what type of evaluation to perform, and bringing your community together to support evaluation – with the intent on highlighting the importance of evaluation not just from a funding perspective, but from an accountability and empowerment perspective.

So far, we’ve discussed some possible “WHYs” of evaluation practice (from the benefits of evaluating your programs and services, seeing if the objectives of your program or service is currently meeting the needs of your participants, to looking at the misconceptions of evaluation and how they can affect your work). Now, let’s switch gears and focus on WHAT you’re evaluating and WHEN to evaluate. This part of the series is trickier than the others, but I want to touch on the basics so that you have a working knowledge on this important part of evaluation. This is by no means complete list. If you have a question about anything in particular (logic models, strategic plans, etc.) or would like me to give more examples of this week’s topic, please let me know in the comments below and I can follow-up with additional blog posts outside of this series.

What Are You Evaluating?

In order to get to your destination, you need to know where you’re going. In order to do this, we need to develop a strategy that will guide you in how you will look at your data. This will help you determine if your producing the results you’re expecting. This is where evaluation questions come in. An evaluation question helps you look at your data to see if your program or service is producing its intended objectives.

There are two types of evaluation questions: a process evaluation question and a results-focused question. A process question wants to know how the program is functioning. How a program functions depends on a variety of factors, such as the length of the program, the number of participants, the activities being offered in the program, how the participants interpret ad interact to the activities, and so forth. In other words, the who, what, when, and how of the program’s implementation. Process questions are especially useful when you’re in the beginning stages of planning your program; however, they can be asked throughout the program so that you’re always thinking ahead and adjusting your program’s implementation.

A result-focused question, on the other hand, wants to know if the program is accomplishing the results you’re expecting. In other words, how effective is your program, and are your participants benefiting from the program in the way you’ve intended? Results-focused questions typically follow the completion of a program.

Now that we know more about the types of evaluation questions, let’s look at when each question comes into play.

When Should You Evaluate?

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  • 14th May
    2014
  • 14

Program Evaluation for Women & Girls of Color: 7 Reasons Why Evaluation is Intimidating

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This is part two in a four-part series on program evaluation, dedicated to organizations and businesses that provide programs and services for women, girls, and communities of color (and for people with an interest in evaluation practice). Throughout this month, I will be discussing certain aspects of evaluation practice –from how I became interested in evaluation, myths about evaluation, knowing what type of evaluation to perform, and bringing your community together to support evaluation – with the intent on highlighting the importance of evaluation not just from a funding perspective, but from an accountability and empowerment perspective.

You know that feeling you get when you’re sitting across from your supervisor during your annual job performance review? You think you’re doing a great job, you’re engaging with your co-workers, your projects are completed on time, and you manage your time well. Your supervisor agrees with you and talks glowingly about your performance, but then proceeds to give recommendations on “ways to improve”.

And now you’re uncomfortable. We all believe that we can handle constructive criticism, but who wants to hear how they’re not doing well? And we already know what improvements need to be made! They’re supposed to make us a better worker. Your supervisor gives you this list of things you need to improve on, and tells you that she would like to check in with you to see how you’re doing. You walk out of her office, feeling frustrated. You see what isn’t going well, and are too self conscious to ask how to improve. With “ways to improve” come concerns that if you don’t measure up, you’re reprimanded, you don’t get your raise, you’re demoted, or you’re let go.

Or…you welcome the challenge. You still feel a little uncomfortable, because it’s human nature to want others to see us at our best. But you already knew which areas you needed to work on but weren’t sure how to go about it, and you’re glad that your supervisor is providing you with concrete ways to do so. You ask your supervisor to provide you with more resources, trainings, literature, and other tools that can help you out as well. She even offers to provide you with additional support by checking in on a monthly basis to see where you are in your improvements. You begin to feel more confident, and your quality of work improves.

This is an example in how shifting your mindset can bring about a better outcome. And our mindset is what Part Two is about. 

Last week in Part One, I shared what I believe are common concerns that go through the minds of nonprofit, agency, and business staff when it comes to evaluating a program or service.

… You’re tasked to carry out an evaluation and you don’t know where to begin. You lack the staff capacity needed to carry out an evaluation, or you want to build the capacity and are leery of hiring an external evaluator or don’t have the money in your budget to hire an internal evaluation staff member. When the evaluation is finally completed, you’re disappointed because the results you receive aren’t what you were expecting, and now you have to report it to your stakeholders and your funders. You’re trying to meet the expectations of the people you’re serving and also the expectations of your stakeholders and funders, and you feel that you’re at the mercy of an entity that can end your organization’s work, especially if a good portion of your funding comes from a primary source.

It’s a lot to think about, which can make it very easy to approach program evaluation with a “Why do we need to do this again?” mindset.

And just like how you feel as you sit across from your supervisor, how we look at program evaluation determines how successful we’re going to be at monitoring and evaluating our own programs and services, or being successful at working with an external evaluator.

The reason why many nonprofits, agencies and businesses don’t welcome evaluation with open arms is because of the confusion and misconceptions surrounding it. While we understand that program evaluation can strengthen the quality of our programs and services and can lead to better outcomes for the populations we serve, all this other stuff just creeps up and it become unwelcoming.

This is even more apparent when all or some of your services are tailored to meet the needs of women, girls, and communities of color. You feel that you are under even more scrutiny to perform well, nail the performance outcomes you indicated in your grant proposal, and be a success.

In order to change our mindset about program evaluation, we need to get to the bottom of why program evaluation may intimidate us, or at the very least, makes us remain ambivalent. In no particular order, here are 7 reasons why many nonprofits, agencies, and businesses believe that program evaluation is intimidating (and my advice on figuring it all out):

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