What Difference Does This Make? Studying Youth as Knowledge Producers



Principal Investigators:  Claudia Mitchell with June Larkin and Sarah Flicker (Co-investigators)

and Naydene de Lange and Jean Stuart (collaborators).

The aim of this project is to develop and test out evaluative tools that can be used to study the impact of our arts-based approaches to HIV and AIDS education and prevention interventions with South African youth. Further, this project aims to explore the ways in which new projects on youth, the arts and HIV and AIDS can incorporate an evaluation component, and to contribute to the field of youth participation and arts-based research by developing evaluative tools that can be modified to provide evidence-based data to assess the value of projects beyond those of the Gendering Adolescence and AIDS Prevention Project (GAAP) and the Centre for Visual Methodologies for Social Change (CVMSC).

The first stage will be devoted to conducting several pilot participatory group evaluations as a way to begin to map out the qualitative indicators relevant to arts-based research projects, particularly in the field of HIV/AIDS. We are seeing this as an iterative process, and for this reason we plan to study as a group in depth data from least one project in the first year, which will provide common ground for the team to refine future work. We will conduct a team-based approach to looking at the data,  develop a restricted-access web portal for collecting and analyzing the data. This will be managed through CVMSC.

The second stage involves expanding the work to include participatory evaluative approaches to working with young people from 3 more projects sites, and testing out the ways that arts-based approaches, such as photo voice, can serve as an evaluative tool, and which will contribute to public exhibitions and presentations.

In the third year of the study we will have developed several versions of evaluative protocols to be used by other groups including research teams such as ours, but also young people (and those working with youth groups). These we will design as part of a draft toolkit, which will be tested out at a regional policy forum on evidence-based approaches to evaluating youth-focused visual and arts-based participatory approaches to HV education to be convened by the CVMSC. An important ‘spin off’ of this work will be to develop tools that can also be incorporated into YAHAnet (www.yahanet.org), the webtool on youth, the arts and HIV and AIDS, and which could therefore contribute to the design of new projects.

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