15 SES 13, Surfacing Program Impacts and Outcomes through Ripple Effect Mapping
Ripple Effect Mapping (REM) is a methodology developed by community outreach and engagement professionals (Emery & Flora, 2006; Wellborn et al., 2016) seeking to capture the impacts of programs, partnerships or policies (generalized here to ‘interventions’). It has valuable applications to education research and evaluation as it generates data on how formal and informal interventions influence the attitudes, practices and social capital of a group. Well aligned with this year’s conference theme, it is a highly inclusive methodology that brings together all actors—leaders, users and stakeholders—along an intervention’s theory of action.
The REM Method is based on open-ended group interviewing and sensemaking. It draws on theories of radiant thinking and mind mapping to surface observed changes, impacts and consequences (intended and unintended) of an intervention at a point of time (Buzon& Buzon, 1996; 2003; Eppler, 2006). As a qualitative method, it underscores the reality of diverse ways of seeing, interdependence between researchers and participants, the value of local context and sensemaking, and practical significance for action (Patton, 2011). For validity and trustworthiness, it draws on extended interaction, persistent observation, member checking and local applicability (Anfara, Brown & Mangione, 2002; Maxwell, 2004)
REM produces visible images of existing and absent connections and relationships. These serve as effective learning and communication tools among participants and others, for example funders and stakeholders. The participatory nature of REM builds trust in findings and motivates collective forward action by participants.
How REM Works. Working from starting prompts, participants engage in a series of quick, paired exchanges to generate observations (. Sample questions may be: What has changed because of this (intervention)? Who do you see benefiting and how? Have you seen harm or untended outcomes? As a result of (this intervention) what has changed in how this group/organization/community does its work? See’s it capacities? During these, prompts such as “Say more!”, Please describe an example?” or “Describe how that is different?” are encouraged by a facilitator.
Observations and perceptions are then mapped, analyzed and refined by the group to produce a radial map of observed first, second and third order impacts or a web illuminating how different actions and events are perceived to influence each other. Maps are entered into mapping software for further use.
Maps often begin with an intervention as a hub, with spokes out to key themes, For example, a REM session to explore how participation in a novel Doctorate in Leadership program influenced alumni’s professional practice produced a map illuminating influences on professional confidence, research use, attention to equity and justice, skills for motivating teacher engagement, and strategic thinking about school improvement (author, 2017). In another example, high school leaders, teachers, students and support specialists will meet this month to map their progress using new instructional methods (authors, 2018).
Use and Significance
Educational research and evaluation is increasingly pressed to identify program and policy impacts. Quantitative measures of effects generated through experimental designs are frequently unfeasible and fail to generate useable feedback for targeted action. Methods such as interviews or focus groups can bring forward useable knowledge and detail, but do not produce a collective portrait of implementation, influence relationships and outcomes. In this regard, REM is a unique resource that can be used independently, as a compliment with other qualitative inquires, or as part of a mixed method study. It can be used by program developers, evaluators and researchers. Importantly, REM can be used with any and all types of groups and communities and imposes few resource demands. It has direct applications to the work of conference participants.
An ECER Ripple Effect Mapping (REM) Workshop Room setting: Participants will need to be at tables or grouped along a wall to construct maps. If the group is modest in size, we can discuss and debrief as a room. If there are many, we will mix group and whole room discussion and debriefing. 0:00 - 0:15 Welcome, An overview of REM, Examples 0:16 - 0:20 Set Up, Group Norming, Group Facilitator selection 0:21 - 0:40 Question cycles in jigsaw pairs 0:41- 0: 50 Check in: What do you notice about your exchanges? 0: 51- 0:60 Group Mapping 0:61 - 0: 75 Map Analysis: What do we see in our maps? 0: 76 - 0:90 Debrief: What was this like? Where and how might you use REM? Depending on how broad or tight an REM inquiry, as well as group size and cohesion, REM sessions can last anywhere between half-a-day and a rapid fire 30-minutes. Ninety minutes is, however, a commonly used block, making the ECER workshop space workable. I will facilitate the workshop drawing in some colleagues as room helpers. Objective: to expose participants to the REM method. Learning Process: The workshop will actively engage participants in the REM process as a means of learning it. The workshop will begin with a short informative presentation on REM followed by an abbreviated REM cycle. Example REM: In order to engage all participants equally, we will imperfectly, playfully but gainfully use the conference itself as an "intervention" to explore. We can ask: What is something that you have learned or been affected by at this conference? What is something you might do as a result of what you have heard at the conference? Who might be affected by these actions and how? A member of each group will be asked to serve ask a facilitator who nudges participants to "Say more!" "Explain how that is new." Or, "Why has it affected you?" Etc. Mapping: Groups will then create a map, using the conference as a starting place. Map Analysis: Groups will query their maps. What do we see?" What do we not see? How divergent or convergent are our experiences? What actions do we see going forward? Is there feedback to give the conference organizers? Debrief: What are participant's reactions and questions? What is it like to do this? What was hard about creating the map? Etc. Applications, Use: How might REM be useful to your work? What are some cautions and concerns?
Workshop Outcomes As a consequence of participating in the workshop, participants will leave with " A bibliography of suggested readings and useful websites. " An introductory understanding of REM, sufficient to explore its use further " A sample map if they like! " (An opportunity to talk with me further about specific ideas and applications if they like.)
Anfara Jr, V. A., Brown, K. M., & Mangione, T. L. (2002). Qualitative analysis on stage: Making the research process more public. Educational researcher, 31(7), 28-38. Buzan, T., & Buzan, B. (1996). The Mind Map Book: How to Use Radiant Thinking to Maximize Your Brain\'s Untapped Potential. Emery, M., & Flora, C. B. (2006). Spiraling-up: Mapping community transformation with community capitals framework. Community Development: Journal of the Community Development Society 37(1), 19-35. Eppler, M. J. (2006). A comparison between concept maps, mind maps, conceptual diagrams, and visual metaphors as complementary tools for knowledge construction and sharing. Information Visualization 5:202- 210. Kollock, D. A. (2011). Ripple effects mapping for evaluation. Washington State University curriculum. Pullman, Maxwell, J. A. (2004). Using qualitative methods for causal explanation. Field methods, 16(3), 243-264. Patton, M. Q. (2011). Developmental evaluation applying complexity concepts to enhance innovation and use . New York: The Guilford Press. Welborn, R., Downey, L., Dyk, P. H., Monroe, P. A., Tyler-Mackey, C., & Worthy, S. L. (2016). Turning the tide on poverty: Documenting impacts through ripple effect mapping. Community Development, 47(3), 385-402.
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