The New Story/Dialogue Evaluation: when children form the future through empowerment evaluation

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Abstract

With the Canadian Story/Dialogue method as a starting point, an evaluation method concerning children’s empowerment and action competence regarding health has been developed in a Danish context. This New Story/Dialogue Method is mentioned in the SHE teacher material (published late 2019) as an example of a teaching activity in Health Promoting Schools (HPS).

The method has been used with groups of school children between the ages of 9-15 years. Health education, health projects and outdoor teaching have been evaluated.
The method has two phases:
Preparations with individual reflections
A workshop, including documentation.
The participants are placed into groups of 5-10 children and one adult facilitator.

In HPS it is considered important to create opportunities for children in enhancing their capabilities. That is, to be empowered and able to act competently for health in a democratic society. One way to facilitate this is children’s participation in decision making in their school, e.g. through evaluation and subsequent proposals for revision of content/form of teaching and school frameworks.

The New Story/Dialogue Method is an evaluation tool but also includes a process to increase empowerment and children’s health literacy. The theoretical background consists of the participatory and action-oriented health education, combined with the Appreciative Inquiry and Affordances Theories. Evaluation data are generated through dialogue.

As preparation, the subject for evaluation is chosen, and the participants individually prepare a story about their experience on this subject. In the workshop the children share their stories, and through questioning and dialogue the group reflects on the stories and finds parallels. The children create insight cards by writing keywords and sentences or by drawing pictures on pieces of paper and these are hung on the wall. Then they categorise and discuss the most important elements in each category. At the end of the workshop, the children`s conclusions and reflections are written down.

The process of evaluative dialogue increases the children’s motivation, the ability to develop creative visions and critical sense. For example, a group of children aged 12-15 years who were evaluating a project on overweight, developed a conception of the school as a setting to prevent overweight in close collaboration with the community. These children were inspired by personal narratives to progress expressing new and unique visions and the planning of implementation.

There are two main difficulties in using the New Story/Dialogue Method:
Firstly, the time spent in the process (the process takes 1-2 hours and the number of participants in a group cannot exceed 10 children).
Secondly, the role as facilitator can be a challenge as the teacher may be tempted to influence the children's attitude to health.

Cooperation between teachers can meet the first challenge and the use of insight cards has shown to be successful in assuring the children’s voices.

The potentials of the method justify this approach as an initiative to develop and increase children’s participation in evaluation as well as in health promotion processes. The method has also been a successful tool in teachers' evaluations.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date21 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - 21 Nov 2019
Event5th European Conference on Health Promoting Schools: Schools for Health in Europe - Moscow, Russian Federation
Duration: 20 Nov 201922 Nov 2019
http://sheconference2019.org/

Conference

Conference5th European Conference on Health Promoting Schools
CountryRussian Federation
CityMoscow
Period20/11/1922/11/19
Internet address

Keywords

  • promoting health
  • children
  • schools, courses and institutions
  • evaluation design

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