Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Boy How This Project Evolves

A few months ago we posted a brief outline of the overall project in the post "So How are You Going to Do This?" In that entry, we described the process of instrument creation, pilot testing, with a culmination of the BIG data collection. Well that BIG data collection moment is right around the corner (It is scheduled for next month. So stay tuned!!). But in order to get all of our instruments ready we had to go down a little detour along the way.

The majority of the Center staff's time this summer has been revising the Event History Calendar (EHC). So much so that we are now convinced that another pilot of this instrument is necessary.

In April/May of this year, the EHC was pilot tested by our Palestinian colleagues. The "results" of the pilot spurred on a massive effort to refine the instrument in preparation for a July training. While we had made substantial changes to the EHC in hopes that it would accurately capture the life experiences of Palestinians, we quickly learned in the July training that there were still many additional changes that needed to be made. We were close, but not quite "right on the money." We had crafted the changes to the EHC based on our Western perspectives of what mattered to family life here in America. We did not account for the types of complexity in Palestinian family life to the extent that was necessary. Thankfully the trainees were very patient with us and provided valuable feedback which has been instrumental in the creation of the newest EHC draft.

In the next week or two the most recent version of the EHC will be piloted again. Hopefully this time, the results will give us confidence to move forward with the September BIG data collection moment. In the meantime, many of us here at the Center are recovering from a fast-paced summer of travel, training preparation, and instrument revisions. Despite the minor detour, there have been many lessons learned about managing and implementing a large data collection effort, creating new instruments, and, most importantly, working in another cultural context.

It would have been much easier to create a survey (or another type of instrument), collect data, and analyze results without much input from the people we are wanting to learn about. We might have even gotten somewhat valid information. However, there is no substitution for this iterative process of constantly involving the local populatoin in all phases and actively seeking and incorporating their feedback.

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