M&E Blog: Working Rigorously with Stories – Impact Story Tool

Originally posted at M&E Blog




I've had some people email me about a paper I presented at the 2013 SAMEA conference. This paper introduces a tool for collecting and rigorously analysing impact stories that could be used as part of an evaluation. The full paper with the tool can be accessed here. The abstract is presented below:

 Beneficiary stories are an easily collected data source, but without specific information in the story, it may be impossible to attribute the mentioned changes to an intervention or to verify that the change actually occurred. Approaches such as Appreciative Inquiry and the Most Significant Change Technique have been developed in response to the need to work more rigorously with this potentially rich form of data. The “Impact Story Tool” is yet another attempt to make the most of rich qualitative data and was developed and tested in the context of a few programme evaluations conducted by Feedback RA.
The tool consists of a story collection template and an evaluation rubric that allows for the story to be captured, verified and analysed. Project participants are encouraged to share examples of changes in skills, knowledge, attitudes, motivations, individual behaviours or organizational practice. The tool encourages respondents to think about the degree to which the evaluated programme contributed towards the mentioned change, and also asks for the details of another person that may be able to verify the reported change. The analyst collects the story, verifies the story and then codes the story using a rubric. When a number of stories are collected in this way, they are then analysed together with other evaluation data. It may illuminate which parts of a specific intervention are most frequently credited with contributing towards a change.
Besides introducing the tool as it was used in three different evaluations, the usefulness of this tool and possible drawbacks are discussed.
 (The picture above is of a character known as "Benny Bookworm" from a South African TV show called "Wielie Walie" which I watched as a child)

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