I originally thought that coordinating a virtual Conversation Project would be a fantastic way for our group to collaborate with Oregon Humanities. I felt that this online gathering would include more people who usually would not be able to attend these events, especially during these times of social isolation. Yet, during our interview with Executive Director of Oregon Humanities Adam Davis, he informed the group that a series of virtual conversations surrounding topics relating to the coronavirus is well on its way. Moreover, from what I learned during the interview, I was thoroughly impressed with the measures the organization takes to make Conversation Projects more accessible to participants, as they offer multilingual conversations and, occasionally, stipends to cover the cost of attendance. Therefore, I think that they are excelling in ensuring accessibility to a greater number of folks, and don’t need much help on that front.
However, from our interview with Davis, it sounded like Oregon Humanities doesn’t do much to assess whether the conversations are impactful once they end. While they provide the participants with resources to take further action on the topic discussed, they do not follow up with participants beyond the event itself to see if they actually took action beyond the conversation or if their opinion or perception of the topic was changed long term. Therefore, taking inspiration from the research of Broockman and Kalla, I think that organizing a series of post-conversation surveys for participants to assess the long-lasting impacts of the Conversation Projects would be a helpful and potentially enlightening engagement project.
Who would be involved?
We would likely begin this project by tracking the long-term impacts of just one Conversation Project, rather than many events at once, to test the waters. Therefore, our group would partner with Oregon Humanities, the group hosting the conversation we choose to survey, and the conversation facilitators to co-create and distribute the surveys. Through this collaboration, we would determine what questions we would like to ask the participants, and the conversation facilitators would then promote our survey at the end of the meeting. Of course, the survey would be targeted towards those who attended the Conversation Project, who would answer the questions and submit them to us. We would then collect the data, present our findings to Oregon Humanities, and then discuss how we can increase the long-term resonance of the conversations.
How would we distribute and collect surveys?
The first survey will be on paper and distributed by the conversation facilitator immediately after the conversation, which participants will fill out as an exit ticket. On this survey they will be asked for their email, and will be told that in providing their email they will receive a few more quick surveys in the future. Moreover, participants will be told that the purpose of the surveys is to assess the long-term impacts of these conversations, and that they were organized by college students and Lewis and Clark. While they are voluntary, participants will be encouraged to fill them out, and perhaps we will offer an incentive for them to do so.
Beyond the initial paper survey, I imagine that creating the survey as a Google Form would be easiest for us and the participants who choose to fill them out. Therefore, we would send them the online survey one day, one week, one month, three months, and six months after the date of the conversation. Participants would fill it out and send their results to us via email.
What would the surveys look like?
Apart from the first survey, each follow-up survey will be identical. The first survey will differ from the rest because it will ask some theoretical questions, such as “Do you think you will take further action inspired by today’s conversation?” Other than that, the surveys will ask the exact same questions. The questions will ask whether or not their opinion and perception of the issue discussed has changed due to the conversation, and how so. The surveys beyond the initial one will ask if participants have taken action inspired by the conversation projects, and if so, to describe the actions taken.
To encourage people to actually complete the survey, questions would be primarily multiple choice. I think less people would take the survey if it asked participants to type out their answers, as that would take much more time and energy. Yet, if participants feel inclined to type out a more descriptive answer beyond the multiple choice selection, that can be an option beneath each question. Overall, I want the surveys to be brief and easy for participants to complete within a short time frame, so we can collect as much data as possible.