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Table 3 Stage 2 and 3 Fieldwork: Description of PLA techniques

From: Using Participatory Learning & Action (PLA) research techniques for inter-stakeholder dialogue in primary healthcare: an analysis of stakeholders’ experiences

Stage 2 fieldwork: Description of PLA techniques
Co-generated Ground Rules
A democratic decision-making group activity that usually occurs at the outset of a PLA research cycle or process.
Aim & Rationale:
Generates a set of agreed rules for stakeholders’ and researchers’ co-participation, interaction, dialogue, and joint activity during a PLA research cycle or process.
Encourages active inclusion and early co-ownership by stakeholders of PLA research activities, promoting empowerment.
Helps to balance asymmetrical power relations in and between stakeholder groups where these may exist.
Commentary Charts
An interactive, highly-visual charting or diagramming technique promoting knowledge-exchange and knowledge-enhancement during stakeholder/inter-stakeholder dialogues.
Aim & Rationale:
Enables stakeholders to learn from each other’s differential knowledge, expertise and perspectives, broadening horizons and advancing stakeholder dialogue.
Generates visual ‘data displays’ of stakeholders’ perspectives and knowledge about the issue being explored, including ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ aspects of each as described from diverse stakeholders’ perspectives, in their own words.
Commentary Charts are useful ‘data displays’ and aide-memoires that all stakeholders can review prior to engaging in Direct Ranking.
Direct Ranking
A democratic ranking/prioritization technique.
Aim & Rationale:
Enables stakeholders to democratically and transparently prioritise a set of items.
Generates visual outcome of stakeholders’ democratic decision.
Advances inter-stakeholder dialogue towards the task in hand.
Stage 3 fieldwork: Description of PLA techniques
Flexible Brainstorming
An interactive knowledge-generation and knowledge-exchange technique.
Aim & Rationale:
Enables stakeholders to rapidly generate and share data in a co-operative manner, using visual materials which are flexible arranged and re-arranged and often brought forward into subsequent techniques.
Card Sort
A categorization technique.
Aim & Rationale:
Enables stakeholders to generate analytical categories that are meaningful to them and to arrange data within these categories. Particularly useful for stakeholder’s assessment and co-analysis of data.
Seasonal Calendar
A grid-based diagram involving co-operative stakeholder/inter-stakeholder dialogue, action-planning and decision-making – the diagram includes a stakeholder-informed timeframe and set of identified actions necessary for an implementation process.
Aim & Rationale:
Enables stakeholders to dialogue, assess and negotiate assignment of responsibilities (activities, tasks) as they co-plan their work.
Seasonal Calendars are useful as a ‘running record’ of stakeholders’ fine-tuning of action-planning, and a record of emerging outcomes of implementation/action over time.
Diagram can be computerized, readily shared among dispersed stakeholder groups, and populated with revisions, additions, deletions and updates.
Speed Evaluation (SE)
A brief verbal (digitally recorded or written) evaluation, usually conducted at the close of a PLA process or session. Stakeholders respond to open-ended questions, in a rapid, interactive and spontaneous way.
Aim & Rationale:
Provides stakeholders with an opportunity to describe experiences in their own words, affirming positives and suggesting areas for improvement.
Allows researchers to ‘take the temperature’ of the group, to build on positives, and, where possible, to plan suggested improvements for forthcoming PLA sessions.
Coming at the close of a PLA session, speed evaluations can be as short as ten minutes, are not unduly demanding, yet yield valuable formative evaluation data.
Participatory Evaluation (PE)
A form of in-depth collaborative evaluation (formative or summative) which is based on a combination of etic and emic criteria. Etic criteria are identified in advance by researchers, whose experience enables them to suggest valuable ‘outsider’ criteria. Emic criteria emerge from shared ‘insider’ experiences, are identified by participants themselves and enable them to suggest valuable ‘insider’ criteria. The final democratically-agreed set of emic and etic criteria forms the evaluation parameters.
Aim & Rationale
Provides stakeholders with an opportunity to suggest evaluation criteria which are important and meaningful to them.
Stakeholders’ emic criteria are capable of yielding evaluation data about the affective dimension of their experience, which often drives behavior but might otherwise remain ‘invisible’ and ‘unheard’.
Researchers often note that emic criteria contribute to an evaluation in ways they could not have anticipated or planned.