I am not a researcher, however in my profession as a Learning and Development Consultant, I have always collected stories from participants on my programs. Why would I do this?
Stories are inspirational, motivational, and can lend credibility and validation to a training. Also, participant experiences give information about what works, what doesn’t work, and ideas about how to make things better.
When I branched out and started my own business sharing the Three Principles, I wanted to measure what I saw — the impact this understanding seemed to have on people’s lives. Conducting research felt a bit daunting. I imagined that my research would need corporate support, or some institutional structure, or at the very least—research experts!
Instead, I started small, collecting and comparing the stories from my workshops and coaching and sharing them on my website and with my client base.
In 2018, with advice from Jeanne Catherine at 3PRC, while I facilitated Resilience and Wellbeing programmes for a local mental health charity, I collected data. I presented the findings at the charity’s Annual General Meeting. This led to writing a report which was distributed within the Public Health division of the National Health Service (Scotland).
Each little bit of success encouraged me to keep collecting the data.
In 2019 I heard Jeanne Catherine speak at the 3P Life 2.0 Conference in London. She talked about how to think about research and its relationship to evaluating the Three Principles. I was inspired by her down to earth approach to research and the sensible and realistic ideas she shares about how to gather and use data.
This brings me to 2020 where my three iheart Scotland buddies and I delivered a Wellbeing programme to 60 Educators. We worked hand in hand with our local Regional Improvement Collaborative (RIC) and their Data Coach to collect information. They helped us define what to ask and how to measure the data over the course of the 4-week programme. Initial feedback from the participants allowed us to fine-tune our weekly survey to questions on areas that were affecting them the most. For example:
Q: At the end of this week how well equipped are you to deal with the following; Stress, Anxiety, Worry etc (1 – not at all 5 – very well). See results below.
The data indicated remarkable changes in resilience and wellbeing:
51% improvement in dealing with worry
43% improvement in dealing with anxiety
56% improvement in dealing stress
55% improvement in managing work/life balance
44% improvement in ability to manage the return to the work-place during the easing of CV-19
This research enabled us to demonstrate the positive impact of our Educators Wellbeing programme and was an important part of the overall project. It contributed to gaining recognition for the programme within the education, youth and community sector, and this has provided the impetus and confidence to take the programme out further and wider. (To learn more about our programme click here.)
So, take your time. Ask a few questions. Track these questions over time. Collaborate. Ask for help!
And to that point, my thanks to Jeanne Catherine, 3PRC for the invitation to write this article, for her feedback and ongoing support and research advice.
You will discover that: You don’t have to be an expert to make the invisible bit visible!