Evaluation forms were collected for each of the 56 break-out sessions. Although not everyone chose to complete evaluation forms for the sessions they attended, the forms that were completed provided us with some very interesting and important information. Our Reports & Evaluation Committee, ably chaired by Eric Boyd, Executive Director of Los Angeles Days of Dialogue, compiled and analyzed this data and wrote the following narrative.
It was clear from the results of the quantitative section of the survey that Conference participants overwhelmingly favored workshops that exposed them to new and innovative methods of D&D practice over those workshops that were topical (i.e. political, race relations, etc.) or even international. This was very telling, especially with international issues so prevalent in light of impending war with Iraq.
As such, the highest session ratings were consistently garnered by the newer, more ?cutting edge? workshop sessions. Top scorers were Liz Lerman?s session entitled ?Dance Exchange on Dialogue and Making Dance,? Duke Duchscherer?s ?Nonviolent Communication: Practical Tools?,? The Animating Democracy Initiative?s ?Arts & Civic Dialogue Exchange,? Irene Papoulis and Beverly Wall?s ?Using Informal Writing to Foster Democratic Dialogue,? and Active Voice?s ?Using Film to Build Dialogue.?
Clearly, the hunger for new applications and exposure to new models should be a primary focus for future conferences. However, since some more topical or traditional workshops (i.e. those focusing on Bohm dialogue, the achievement gap and white privilege) garnered the highest numbers in participant attendance, an equitable balance between traditional topics and new models/applications should be pursued.
It was also apparent that there is a hunger for more interaction, evidenced by the fact that session presenters received high marks for their delivery, but relatively low marks for participant contribution opportunities. Time allotment will also require a great deal of thought in future conferences, as it registered the lowest ratings of all measured items. Still, participant objectives were largely met, materials and presenters scored high, and overall session ratings were highly positive.
Next Steps for Field
For the most part, participants felt that if in fact the dialogue & deliberation community views itself as a ?field? or ?movement,? then that body should work assiduously to ?show its wares? and/or ?showcase its stars.?
Relative to the individuals who comprise our ?field,? a significant number of members view the question of neutrality as one of vital importance to the field. In addition to the conference Organizing Committee?s recognition of this emerging issue ? as evidenced by verbally addressing the issue at the final plenary session ? a number of individuals attending workshop sessions also indicated concern in this regard. One participant who attended the ?Creating Space/Restorative Justice? session stated the following: ?Sentiments for Offenders were troubling (almost pro offender). Need more work on what it means to ?create safe space? vs. advocacy.?
Whatever the next steps are for the field, feedback from participant evaluations make it very evident that practitioners believe that addressing ?The Neutrality Question? should be included in our list of priorities.
Compilation of Evaluation Forms
Respondents were asked to rate how strongly they agree with 11 statements about the session they just attended. 9 of the features were rated, on average, between agree (4) and strongly agree (5). Only two statements rated between neutral (3) and agree (4) ? those having to do with ample time and ample participation. Here are the statements and their averaged ratings, in order of rating.
We also asked a series of questions to help us understand more about participants? interests and needs, and about session outcomes. The first question was multiple choice; the rest were open-ended. Here are the most common responses we received.
Please tell us why you chose to attend this particular workshop session.
What was the best thing about this session? Top three responses, in order of popularity:
How can future sessions be improved? Top three responses, in order of popularity:
What next steps does this session prompt you to pursue (if any)?
What next steps does the session convince you the dialogue/deliberation field should pursue (if any)?
Additional Evaluation Information:
Last Updated:? June 26, 2003.