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Qualitative data is powerful in its ability to illustrate the “why” behind programs’ work; collecting it can help us listen and uncover insights from diverse voices. It’s easy, however, to get stuck in a rut of relying on traditional surveys, interviews, or focus groups. In this session, we’ll explore and share approaches that may be new to you, or that maybe you haven’t thought about in a while, including arts-based methods (e.g., photo-elicitation, collage, poetry), gathering artifacts, and other participatory techniques. Bring examples from your own work to share. We’ll try out some of these methods together during the session and refresh our evaluation palette.
Gretchen Biesecker, Ph.D. is a developmental psychologist and program evaluator, with over 25 years of experience and a focus on evaluation capacity-building. Gretchen is Principal Consultant for Bee’s Knees Consulting LLC, based in Somerville, MA, providing program evaluation and related services to a range of education, health, and youth development non-profits and foundations. A former GBEN Advisory Board Member, volunteer at the Museum of Fine Arts, and host at The Somerville Growing Center, she enjoys connecting people, art, nature, and evaluation.
Gretchen served for over 7 years as the Vice President of Evaluation at City Year, leading their national evaluation work across nearly 300 schools, reaching more than 150,000 students annually. Before joining City Year, she was a Research Assistant Professor for the Institute for Juvenile Research at the University of Illinois at Chicago, collaborating on a longitudinal study of biological and social risk and protective factors among youth. For five years, she served as the Research and Policy Coordinator at the Massachusetts Children’s Trust, a leading family support non-profit.
Gretchen has taught at multiple universities including Tufts University and the University of Massachusetts Boston. Her publications span the areas of psychology, epidemiology, and social policy. She earned her undergraduate degrees in Psychology and History from Carnegie Mellon University, a Ph.D. in Applied Child Development from Tufts University, and she completed a post-doctoral fellowship in Psychology at Örebro University in Sweden.