Participatory design is a popular model of impact evaluation design. It does not guarantee as much reliability and precision as experimental or quasi-experimental designs, but it brings broader range of perspectives. In participatory evaluation you refer to the perceptions of the participants of the evaluated project and, on the basis of the data obtained from them, you evaluate the impact of the project.
Thus, the method of collecting data (methodology) is of great importance, because in this model it is particularly easy to distort the results by adjusting the respondents to what they think the researcher might want to hear, especially if the data collector was someone from the project staff (this the last one should rather not happen).
One of the techniques included in this type of research is called ‘Reflexive counterfactuals’. It’s advantage is that it can be used after the end of the project, although it is also very exposed to the previously described risks, the so-called influence of the researcher. As part of ‘reflexive counterfactuals’, the beneficiaries are asked to compare their situation before and after the end of participation in the project, to indicate what has changed for the benefit and what is worse. Then, they are asked to indicate the reasons for particular changes for the worse and for the better (including, of course, they can indicate participation in the project and even individual project activities). Within this technique, it is possible to use both qualitative and quantitative methods (questionnaires in which it is possible, for example, to determine the order of influencing factors).
Another relatively new technique for participatory impact analysis is MSC (Most Significant Changes). It is based on the generation and in-depth analysis of the most significant history of changes that were noticed in the life of project beneficiaries by various project stakeholders (including the beneficiaries themselves). The properties of this research technique allow it to be used after the end of the project.
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