Friday, August 19, 2011

Week 6: Rebecca

SHG  members gather at SST center to participate in survey

SHG member filling out survey
After many discussions with SST staff and faculty at CUSSW, JC and I developed a project for the remainder of our time here. We are examining the impact of SST supported SHGs on the wellbeing of women. We are assessing the level of improvement across SST’s six development sectors: environment, agriculture, economic development, health, education, and infrastructure. We also included a brief section on women’s empowerment.

Narrowing the project questionnaire was far from an easy process. When the survey was originally drafted it was a whooping 18 pages. It was too long, but there were so much content to explore within each sector that I found it hard to compromise depth for length. Knowing that a three hour survey was unrealistic for both staff and SHG members, we collaborated to prioritize certain question types.

The SST surveys we have reviewed generally assess quantitative measurements, therefore this survey could be used as a tool to also assess qualitative measures. The questions are structured to elicit responses which assess the member’s perception and priorities. 

SST staff administered the survey to a small focus group and three problems arose: length, complexity and literacy level. The main challenge was the 15 or so open-ended questions. SST staff informed us that many of their surveys are filled out by the administrator in a face to face interview, so this may be the first time participants were asked to write their responses. I assumed that the question format would be somewhat self-explanatory and took for granted that surveys are culturally specific documents. SHG members had difficulty understanding questions that asked them to rank their responses numerically. Most skipped over the open-ended questions. I thought that rating questions could be answered regardless of literacy level, however, illiterate women could not recognize the numerical values. SST staff suggested reframing open-ended questions into rating questions and to offer more assistance to women with low literacy proficiency.

The entire process was tedious and frustrating, but worthwhile. Once finalized, the survey was successfully completed by 103 participants (possibly more if it is administered today). JC and I are beginning to analyze the results for an internal report to the Chairman of the organization. I feel proud of the questionnaire we’ve developed with SST and hope the results provide insight for future development programs. None of the work over the last few weeks would have been possible without the insight of SST staff, our advisors at Columbia University School of Social Work and the SHG members, thank you all!

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