Research Makes Perfect

Research makes perfect!

Erasmus+ training course “Research Makes Perfect” (acronym RMP) took place in Kaunas, Lithuania on 18-26 May of 2018. This project aimed to enhance youth workers knowledge about different research methods, setting up and running research studies to boost their performance at work. We believe that basing work on facts and not on intuition brings positive impact on work results and helps to reach the objectives. Some of the best moments of the project can be seen here:

Inspiration of the project

Organisations/youth workers are successful or unsuccessful in their mission based on the decisions they make. Yet, for the most part, these decisions are based on the intuition or opinions of the youth worker or organisation’s managers. Facts and deeper analysis are rarely considered. We deem this to be a costly mistake. Our belief is that organisations/youth works should be run based on research and facts. This would help organisations/youth work to choose the right direction and focus on things that really matter to the local community. There would also be benefits for the organisations/youth workers as they could become more efficient with the scant resources they usually have. Lack of organisational researching for NGOs is a problem that is present all over Europe, and, especially, in the relatively poorer regions such as Lithuania, Latvia, and Turkey. Therefore, youth organisations from these countries with good examples from Italy and France have united for this training course dubbed “Research Makes Perfect” (RMP).

Objectives

RMP’s main goal is to make research more usable at organisational and youth worker level, and so allow for more focus on the areas/communities that really matter. In order to reach this goal, the following objectives have been set:

  1. teach the youth workers the essentials of data researching tools and methodologies;
  2. provide them with the necessary skills for researching and passing on that knowledge to others;
  3. create opportunities for the participants to practice the gained skills and knowledge while carrying out relevant research in the local area;
  4. promote the analysis-based approach to youth work across the participating countries.

Project’s Participants

30 youth workers from Lithuania, Latvia, Italy, France and Turkey gathered in Kaunas to learn more about research. The project was designed for youth workers who are: 1) active in youth work or responsible for organising/coordinating various initiatives within youth organisations and/or similar institutions; and 2) keen and motivated to learn new researching tools (and how to use them) and share their existing expertise with their colleagues from other countries. They were socially aware, tolerant to other’s opinion and have intentions to transfer the acquired knowledge to youth and other youth workers back at home. These youth workers were managers of youth NGOs, youth trainers, animators, youth lecturers, youth volunteers, etc.

Project’s Activities

To achieve the goals and objectives of the project, a range of NFE methods created by the involved partner countries were employed. The main activities identified the benefits of youth participation in creating the means of spreading information about the idea to the public. Creativity, involvement and initiative of all the young people who participated were encouraged throughout the activities, which included:

  1. Getting to know the city – “Mission Kaunas” game;
  2. World cafè: coffee & discussions in a non-formal environment on the issues of research (ethics, privacy, misuse, inaccuracy etc.); 
  3. Video evening: watching short movies, documentaries & speeches about research;
  4. Guest Speaker from ‘Social Innovation Institute’ Ingrida Gučienė shared tips and tricks on how to make helpful and problem-solving research;
  5. “Dare challenge” – finding the best method for conducting surveys/interviews on a specific topic;
  6. Planning and launching a research by using online tools;
  7. Preparing a research by surveying people in the city centre;
  8. Introduction to video creation + shooting in the city + editing + presenting;
  9. Workshops by the participants related to the topic;
  10. Pop quiz;
  11. Cultural nights.
Some of the main activities’ descriptions and pictures can be seen below:

“Mission Kaunas”

Participants were divided into five groups and had to accomplish various tasks when travelling around Kaunas city. They had to create a team name, motto and to answer many different questions about Lithuanian culture and history. For example, one team was asked what trees were saint in Lithuania in pagan times, to find a place in Kaunas where there are a lot of these trees and to make a picture there. Another team got a question about two Lithuanian heroes – pilots, who crossed the Atlantic ocean. The participants had to answer who these heroes are, to find their sculpture and make a picture in front of it.

The youth spent the majority of the first day trying to accomplish this mission. That way, they had a chance to get to know Lithuanian history, famous Kaunas places and to bond as a team.

World Cafe

Participants had coffee & discussed in groups in a non-formal environment. Groups changed the topic every 15 minutes so that everyone has a chance to discuss all the topics. Half of the teams went out to enjoy the nice weather while others stayed in the conference room. The discussions were held on four topics: 

  1. Should research follow some ethic norms (i.e. certain topics should not be touched)? Or research should go into every topic/field possible (for the public benefit)? Perhaps you’ve heard of any cases where research/surveys/interviews created a scandal or something negative?
  2. Do you think that there are intuitive and self-evident things and any research on them is only a waste of effort/time/money? Can you mention any? Or perhaps intuition is not always right (and research can indicate such wrongs)?
  3. Research and privacy: think of a recent Cambridge Analytica scandal (50M FB users data leaked). Should researchers be banned from accessing certain personal data? Even if their research produces valuable insights for the public? Maybe you have any ideas on how to safeguard privacy?
  4. Making research samples. Why does it often go wrong? Think of Brexit or Trump election – most of the public researches predicted different outcomes. Do you have any ideas how it could be improved?

Afterwards, all the teams shared the summary of their discussions.

Country workshops

The participants in their country teams had to prepare interactive presentations on one of the following topics:

  1. Researching youth online and in social media.
  2. Researching the public: surveys.
  3. Researching the public: interviews.
  4. Focus group research.
  5. Planning research.
  6. Analysing the data and presenting the results.

The youth did a great job preparing and presented some really interesting things: the team which chose planning research did an acting performance and the one with researching youth online theme created a picture game.

Social research: planning, running, documenting and presenting

During the middle of the project, the youth started planning their social research. In new teams, they had to decide on what social issue they would like to tackle and delve deeper into through their to-be-conducted research. Problems turned into question and methods of asking these questions were brainstormed during the sessions.

Finally, the teams went out and conducted their research. At the same time, they had to document all the process. Before proceeding with the research, participants got a lesson on video making. All in all, the teams had to accomplish four tasks: run a research online and offline, film the process and to present the collected data in a PowerPoint format.

Other activities

At the start of the training course, participants had to set the rules, create gossip and punishment boxes, and to fill the expectation tree with their wishes for this week. During the whole project, two games were played: “The Killer” (people had a victim who they had to kiss in order to kill) and “Secret friend” (participants were giving gifts and nice notes). Every morning started with energizers and at the end of the day, there were cultural nights, in which participants had to present their countries. For this activity, the youth got really creative, they made traditional food, taught songs and dances, also, games from their countries. At the last day, everyone was given white t-shirt and others wrote wishes and nice words for each other. All of these activities gave the participants a chance to get to know each other better.

Project’s results

According to the participants themselves, activities, described above, helped them to get a better look at conducting research and using the data for youth organisations. During the activities, they were not only very eager to share their knowledge and their thoughts but also to listen to what others have to say as well.

The project proved to be successful not only by its educational programme but also it was a valuable experience to start a multicultural dialogue. The participants assured, that the knowledge they gained will be useful in their future work.

The exchange took place at the same time as Kaunas Hansa Days, Street Music Day, so the participants had a chance to take part in the spring festivities of Kaunas and to immerse themselves into Lithuanian life.

To sum up, the project made a positive impact on the participants and organizations on many levels. As it was mentioned before, the participants are strongly motivated to make a change and to better youth organisations’ work, as well as to continue spreading their newly gained knowledge. We believe that participants included in the project “Research Makes Perfect” will promote akin projects across the EU.

Project’s schedule, activities and material:

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And more… The list is being updated.

 

 

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