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Using Photography and Poetry for Data Collection in Evaluation: An introduction to Arts-Based Methods - previously recorded eStudy 125

Jennica Nichols, MPH

Maya Lefkowich, PHD


A survey cannot answer every evaluation question. To increase the usefulness of evaluation, we need more creative measurement strategies to reach people where they are at and engage them in meaningful ways. Let’s be honest – we all benefit when evaluation techniques elevate joy and diverse wisdom to counter extractive and depleting practices. Arts-based methods facilitate collaboration, effective data collection, and critical reflexivity. This three-hour workshop introduces foundational concepts for arts-based data collection with key ethical and practical considerations.

In this online session, we explore strategies for using photography and poetry in evaluation. Participants will: 1) build a theoretical and practical understanding of two arts-based methods; 2) identify appropriate data analysis strategies across diverse contexts; and 3) understand how to overcome potential barriers to integrating arts-based methods into their work. This workshop will include a short dynamic lecture, individual and small group experiential learning activities, meaningful discussion, and plenty of examples from our practice to support real-world application. Focusing on data collection techniques for both empirical evidence and reflexive practice, this workshop bolsters participants’ capacities to use each arts-based method in their practice.


Ahead of the first class, please take 5 minutes to take a photo or find an existing image (e.g., in your photo album, in a magazine, etc.) that represents, "What does good evaluation mean to you?" Blurry, abstract, thumb-over-lens photos are totally okay. Please do not take photos of people who are identifiable. Don't over-think it! We are not looking for award-winning photography here. Please be prepared to share your picture in small groups. There will also be a second homework assignment for the second class, which will be assigned during the first session.


Participants must have at least some experience (a) designing evaluations or framing evaluation questions, and (b) using qualitative data collection and analysis techniques. Experience conducting interviews and focus groups will be an asset. Evaluators at any career stage (including students) are welcome. No artistic experience (or skill) is required. Openness to imaginative, creative, and playful practice is a must!

Learning Outcomes:

  • To understand unique opportunities and potential risks of using arts-based methods in their evaluations. They will be able to identify when, how, and with whom to elicit qualitative data using the included arts-based techniques
  • An enhanced confidence for facilitating art-making to elicit qualitative data. Playing the roles of both participants and evaluators in the workshop, learners will understand what arts methods require in terms of time, resources & energy
  • Ability to sustain independent learning in arts-based methods by understanding which methods are most applicable and interesting for them, using supplemental resources, and participating in a community of practice with fellow attendees.

This workshop is aligned to AEA’s Competencies and Guiding Principles as follows:

  • Competence: Evaluators provide skilled professional services to stakeholders. Common Good and Equity: Evaluators strive to contribute to the common good and advancement of an equitable and just society.
  • Methodology Domain: Focuses on technical aspects of evidence-based, systematic inquiry for valued purposes.

Facilitation Experience:

Jennica has facilitated professional learning through St. Michael's Hospital (Toronto, Canada) as the coordinator for an ongoing capacity building series to support community organizations in ;using ;evaluation in more meaningful ways (2012-2014), held one-on-one mentoring sessions as an internal evaluator to building evaluation capacity for people working for a national health charity (2014-2017), hosted ;training workshops for researchers and artists using research-based theatre (2016-2021), was a teaching assistant for a graduate course on qualitative methods at a Canadian university (2018, 2020, 2022), and have facilitated trainings for the Canadian Evaluation Society (BC Chapter) since 2017.

Maya has facilitated professional development as a teaching assistant for a graduate course on qualitative methods at a Canadian university (2019), teaching arts-based methods to international nursing students (2019), training students and evaluators in qualitative methods (2019, 2020, 2021), and mentoring PhD students looking to use arts-based methods in their work (2021, 2022). As an expert in arts-based research methods, she brings a keen ability to translate these methods into evaluation practice. Together, we have taught arts-based methods to evaluators as a workshop at multiple CES national conferences, one webinar for CES national, one webinar for CES - BC chapter, researchers at the University of British Columbia, and have independently run three online courses (2020, 2021, 2022). Each iteration of the arts-based methods for evaluation has resulted in formative evaluation feedback that has been integrated into future sessions to refine content and improve learner's experiences. 

December 1st, 2022 12:00 - 1:30 PM ET
December 8th, 2022 12:00 - 1:30 PM ET

Once you purchase the eStudy you must register for each session. Recordings will be made available to registrants unable to attend sessions live. Recordings will be made available to all registrants for 90 days.