Nicola Wallace Dean, Project Manager for Starting Point Community Hub talks about how she has used the Outcomes Star as a tool for monitoring the change in participants attitudes on one of her community projects.
Tell us a bit about yourself. (Your job, organisation, and your technical ability!)
“I have been an IT Trainer & Project Manager for 15 years but do not profess to be techy in anyway, although I have a great interest in new gadgets and software.”
Why did you look for this tool in the first place? What did you need help with?
I needed a tool that would help me to monitor the attitudes of participants in a project about where they live, and see if they changed over the course of the project. I didn’t have the budget to spend on anything fancy or bespoke, and didn’t want our events to become form filling sessions. Outcomes star was free, and allowed me to track changes easily by asking participants to answer six key questions. This normally took less than 10 minutes each visit - perfect.
How did you find out about the tool?
I’d worked with partners who had used it and liked it.
What is this tool mainly used for?
I use Outcomes star to measure change when working with people. There are a number of different tools on the website, including the ‘community star’ and also a ‘work star’ that is useful when working with volunteers who are looking to return or start work. There’s a version on the website that you can pay for which evaluates answers for you, or you can print out the questions for free and simply plot the responses on your own chart by hand that worked for me.
What do YOU use it for?
Tracking outcomes for my project and monitoring change in participants’ opinions.
What have been the benefits of using this tool?
It’s a time efficient way of tracking our outcomes, and it was free!
Is there any cost attached to using this tool?
Not for the paper version.
Are there any online tutorials available?
Yes! There are loads of useful case studies and guides that you can read on the website or download.
Did this tool need much of your or a colleague’s time to set up at the beginning?
No, not at all it was really quick and one of our Digital Champions now takes responsibility for the stars.
Are there any limitations to using this tool?
Do you have any top tips for using this tool?
Give participants the questions and not the star to track their responses on. We found that they became too focused on drawing the star rather than answering the questions! Also explain that there are no correct answers. We found that participants answered how they thought we wanted them to, for example saying the community was a very safe place to live. When we discussed their answers, they said they thought that they were almost supposed to “sell” the area. I recommend explaining why you’re asking the questions you are in quite a bit of detail before embarking on the exercise.
Do you have any other recommendations of digital tools you use, and what you use them for?
• Google calendar (shared) to advertise centre events to partners on our website. • Linkedin in to recruit volunteers and board members • Tweetdeck & Twitter