We have recently announced the introduction of a small collection of questions, known as a ‘Question Bank’, specifically developed to support Toolkit users in their evaluation of Outdoor Arts events. We would now like to bring to your attention the development of another small Question Bank, this time focussing on Participatory Experiences.
This blogpost will highlight:
- The development of the set of questions
- How to use them
- How to access them
Where did the Question Bank for Participatory Experiences come from?
We have always known that evaluating participatory experiences has required a different approach to those that are presentational in nature. That’s why we worked with arts organisations to, firstly, develop a ‘long list’ of participatory dimensions and, secondly, to refine the ‘long list’ to curate something more manageable and appropriate to support research. Through this NPO-led, dimensions-focussed process, we were able to learn a lot about the nuances of participatory experiences. These were explored further through the delivery of a webinar on the subject and provided written guidance and blogposts.
Of course, the Toolkit isn’t only about dimensions; the flexibility of it means that users can add in their own questions to surveys, complementing their dimension selection. These questions can come in many forms including multiple choice, dropdown, free text… Utilising these different question types, we wanted to produce a small set of standardised questions to support you in your evaluation of participatory experiences.
The development of the Participatory Experiences Question Bank has come through:
- Exploring custom questions added by NPOs to their participatory-focussed surveys within the Toolkit
- Finding common links and themes between the custom questions
- Developing standardised versions of the commonly asked custom questions
- Condensing the list of questions to avoid overlap and to increase opportunity for future research
- Seeking approval from Arts Council England
How do I use the Question Bank for Participatory Experiences?
It is recommended that you approach the Question Bank with the same initial question that you do when designing all surveys – What am I hoping to learn from this survey?
When selecting your participatory dimensions, you will be asking yourself, “What are the intentions for this work?”
When selecting your questions from the bank, you should ask yourself, “What other quantifiable factors will help me understand the impact of this work?”
One key piece of advice we offer to anyone building a survey is to not ask questions for the sake of it!
Your participatory survey will likely include a combination of both dimensions and further questions. A well-considered combination of question types will not only provide you with more context and understanding with which to interpret your results but will also provide some variety for your respondents, avoiding survey fatigue.
Each question you ask should help you to understand:
- Whether your intentions for the work you’re evaluating were met
- What impact your work has had on its participants
For instance, if your participatory experience was more Talent Development in nature, you might not choose to add the standardised question on wellbeing (influenced by the widely-used and rigorous Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale [WEMWBS]). Therefore, you may choose only one question from the bank to enhance your survey, or you may choose four. There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach and we would encourage you to consider and select the questions that you feel will genuinely support you in your evaluation.
How do I view and select questions from the Question Bank for Participatory Experiences?
There is a Culture Counts feature in the pipeline, which will enable you to simply select the questions you would like to add to your surveys – nice and easy! In the meantime, we wanted to provide you with the list of questions, including question type and answer options, so that you can benefit from their development before the feature is implemented.
If you have used any of the questions from the Question Bank for Participatory Experiences, we would love to hear how you got on!
 A ‘quantifiable factor’ is something that can be measured and then recorded in a numerical fashion.
 Important note: The standardised question on wellbeing within the Toolkit is not a replica of the WEMWBS. However, it has been based on the metrics used in WEMWBS to help indicate the extent to which someone’s wellbeing has increased through their participatory experience.