STEP 2: Testing initial assumptions

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

There is likely to be a long time between the pre-arrival and the ‘end of tour’ questionnaire.

As such, volunteers may, with the consent of the local partner and any other relevant stakeholders, engage in one or more quick appraisal techniques to work out what difference they are making or failing to make.

By undertaking this activity at the middle of his/ her stay, the volunteer can correct misunderstandings and better tailor his/ her approach, while also feeding back useful suggestions to the partner organisation and his/ her own volunteer organisations.

Useful techniques such as the appreciation line, palm on chest and moodbox can be found in Quick Appraisal Methods.

Other useful techniques include:

There is no need to repeat the guidance already provided on the above techniques.

Participant observation is, of course, ongoing; all volunteers do it even if they do not realise they are doing so. Volunteers are ideally placed to engage in participant observation as they should, over time, blend into the local community.

The Most Significant Change approach might be particularly useful as it is built into the questionnaire.

Reflective Log or Journal

The only technique that has not been discussed elsewhere is the reflective log. This is something that most volunteer organisations encourage already. There are lots of sites already providing excellent advice on such logs. They include:

You are likely to record lots of your reflections during the stay on questions such as:

  • What does a typical day look like?
  • What were the highs, lows and quiet moments today/ this week?
  • What happened today/this week which you are grateful for and why?
  • What good things have happened in the last few days/ this week?
  • What changes have you made today/ this week/ this month and how do you know?

However, reflective journals are more useful when they focus on:

What?  (What happened? What did I do or other people do? What changes have you made today/ this week/ this month and how do you know?)

So What? (what are the implications of the above for myself/ others/ the project now and in the future)

What next? (What should I do now or in the future in response to this event)

It could have many formats. Here are a couple:

Format 1

Format 2

Once you have decided on techniques to test your initial assumptions, move onto Step 3.