Transition: Reporting, Documenting and Updating BRIDGE
August 18, 2009
Maintaining and Sustaining BRIDGE Programs
August 18, 2009

This section looks at what happens during the workshop itself. Facilitators should also refer to the Facilitation Manual for further facilitation-specific information.

Methodology Principles Reminder

Those facilitating BRIDGE workshops are encouraged to:

    • create a learning environment that is respectful, safe and conducive to open and constructive dialogue
    • keep lecturing to a minimum, instead using participatory methods for learning such as discussion, debates, mock trials, games, role plays and simulations
    • connect people’s lived experience directly to abstract concepts and legal documents
    • provide for an open-minded examination of electoral concerns with opportunities for participants to arrive at positions different to the facilitator’s
    • include an international/global dimension to how elections are practiced, (e.g. how it manifests itself both at home and abroad)
    • affirm the belief that the individual can make a difference and provide examples of individuals who have done so
    • include an action dimension that provides participants with opportunities to act on their beliefs and understanding. These actions should address problems both at home and elsewhere in the world
    • explicitly link every topic or issue to relevant articles of the broader international instruments on elections and democracy, such as UN Conventions or regional declarations
    • be responsive to concerns related to cultural diversity, especially in the design of activities should reflect a variety of perspectives (e.g., race, gender, religion, cultural/national traditions).

Preparation days

As stated earlier, the workshop should be preceded by several days of preparation by the facilitation team.

The opening session

No matter how much effort is put into providing participants with material that explains BRIDGE in detail, many will still arrive on the first day knowing little about BRIDGE. There may also be participants who fail to see how BRIDGE is relevant to them. It is therefore vitally important that the opening ceremony of BRIDGE be supported by key figures in the client organisation, and that an overview be given to participants. If the head of the organisation is prepared to give ten minutes of his or her time to say how important he or she thinks the program is, it can really help to build a positive environment from the start.

Care should be taken to ensure that the arrangements for opening a BRIDGE workshop have been thoroughly planned. Among other things, it might be necessary to:

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    • invite key and/or high profile personnel to attend this session, and ask some of them (especially clients and donors) to make welcoming comments before an appropriate BRIDGE facilitator introduces the workshop
    • invite the media (perhaps through the distribution of a press release)
    • arrange the training room furniture, with appropriate seating for VIPs
    • take photographs
    • provide special refreshments

The following items relate to the opening session as outlined in the Facilitators Notes of every module, and highlight some implementation issues for each.

Welcome and workshop administration

A sample of an introductory speech is given in the Introduction module. To adjust such a speech to local circumstances, the following elements might be included:

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    • introductions of visitors and special and important guests
    • explanation of the role of consultants, if they are being used
    • an expression of gratitude to relevant people and donors
    • what BRIDGE stands for
    • the background to BRIDGE
    • the main objectives of the workshop
    • what participants will take away with them
    • the BRIDGE methodology (in particular, adult learning principles, flexibility, interactivity, informality, awareness of diversity and differences in expectations)
    • main characteristics of the workshop

Under the last of these points, it may be appropriate to reiterate that BRIDGE provides a forum in which participants can work together through discussion, debate, presentation, role-play and simulation. Providing from the outset a detailed description of what BRIDGE is (and is not) is critical.

Once welcoming speeches have been made and the workshop introduced, facilitators should outline some of the practical aspects of the workshop. They might wish to:

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    • go through housekeeping matters (for example venue, security issues, car parking, access passes and ID badges)
    • discuss administrative matters (for example participants’ obligations as employees, and remuneration and allowances in relation to workshop attendance)
    • run through the agenda
    • discuss with participants the starting and finishing time of daily sessions
    • recall that the schedule is flexible and, therefore, may be changed according to circumstances
    • mention that participants will be working in teams, pairs and individually, which implies time frames may vary depending on the type of activities conducted

Facilitators should take the time to introduce participants to BRIDGE if they are new to it. If possible, provide the BRIDGE brochure or refer participants before the workshop to the BRIDGE website. There is a PN document called ‘BRIDGE Project Information’ in every module which also covers basic information about BRIDGE.

The contact list should also be circulated at this point to obtain contact details for all participants.

Addressing participant expectations

We have discussed module objectives (those that were developed by the curriculum designer) and program objectives (objectives specific to the context and participants of the program being run), based on which the particular workshop being run has been designed. It is important for facilitators to manage any mismatch between participant expectations and the program objectives on day one.

One of the standard exercises on the first day of any BRIDGE training, following housekeeping and the official welcome, is an activity called ‘Introduction and Participant Expectations’. Facilitators may discover at this point that, despite having developed the program objectives through discussion with stakeholders, and despite having communicated them in advance, that nonetheless misunderstanding or miscommunication can occur.

Re-aligning participant expectations with program objectives (and program design) should be done as early as possible – and a variety of techniques can be used:

  • Open discussion together with the participants at the end of the activity
  • Quick discussion amongst the facilitation team and hosting organisation to assess whether changes to the curriculum are possible at that late hour (such as the addition of a guest speaker, or shift of focus)
  • Individual discussion with those participants directly affected (whose expectations will not realistically be filled) – experience has shown that early recognition of individual concerns can be enough to pre-empt any discontent at a later stage

Curriculum framework and context (‘This Module in BRIDGE’)

It is important for participants to be able to see the workshop within a wider context. This includes the:

  • Wider BRIDGE program
  • Electoral cycle
  • BRIDGE curriculum framework

Ideally organisers should promote the workshop as a component of the broader program, and participants should be aware of that. Placing it within the electoral cycle and the BRIDGE framework will underline this.

Guest speakers

Throughout the conduct of BRIDGE activities, it is recommended that specialists be invited to address participants on relevant issues. The importance of local experts cannot be over-emphasised, as they serve two important purposes: first, they provide a change from the regular facilitators; and, second, they can provide highly context-specific information. Relying on guest speakers is particularly recommended when facilitators do not have an extensive electoral background. People who have expert knowledge in many areas of electoral administration are likely to be found both within the host country EMB and outside (for example, from academia or donors).

To show appreciation to such guests in the most appropriate way, the project manager will need to consider whether their contribution is part of their normal job and whether they have incurred substantial expenses in requesting leave from work or getting to the venue.

Photographs

A digital camera is extremely useful in a BRIDGE workshop. Photographs of opening ceremonies, closing ceremonies and certificate presentations, group dinners, guest speakers, and groups working together and having fun, serve two important functions:

  • As a visual record of participation that can be given to participants to remind them of the personal outcomes achieved through the workshop – a group photo should appear on the same page as the participants contact list, so that those who do not normally work together can easily network (putting faces to names helps), a central element of the capacity development objective of BRIDGE programs
  • As material for BRIDGE archives – effective documentation (including thorough record keeping) of all workshops will allow the BRIDGE Office to continually improve BRIDGE programs, which is one of the founding partners’ main objectives

If a digital camera is not available, standard photos should be taken and forwarded to the BRIDGE Office for scanning.

Monitoring during the workshop

Monitoring is a vital part of the evaluation process, which is discussed further in 7.1 Evaluating BRIDGE. Monitoring during a workshop should cover (at the minimum) facilitators, venue, materials and teaching aids, and should include elements of group, peer and individual feedback as well as trainer evaluations. Participants should be asked to give an indication of their own experiences of training and learning.

Although BRIDGE workshops are appraised by participants on a daily basis, using evaluation sheets (each module contains a generic sheet for use), there are also other methods – referred to in the Facilitators Notes – that facilitators may choose to use to measure the effectiveness of training during the workshops.

There are real advantages in continuous monitoring. Daily appraisal – including verbal or icebreaker evaluation either at the start or the end of the day – enables facilitators to modify their workshops and address any issues as they emerge. That way, feedback is unlikely to be missed. Yet, experience shows in some cases that those who are evaluated and supposed to give feedback may get tired of it, which will result in a half-hearted response. As a result, the feedback will not be as accurate as expected.

Group evaluation

Various forms of verbal group evaluation are suitable for the end of a day or the whole workshop. Their strength is that people are usually more prepared to make extensive comments in a small group discussion, than in writing. Filling out feedback forms has the inherent problem of being completed in isolation from other participants but is anonymous. Hearing others comments can, however, make the less confident members of the group feel more secure about their opinions but it puts all in the position of having to justify their opinions to the rest of the group.

Key moment snapshots

Evaluation can be done less frequently, especially when the activities do not vary significantly from day to day. People tend to give much more feedback when they see or experience new things. To counteract possible weariness and minimise the risk of losing valuable feedback, it might be advisable to have a set of debriefing sessions among the implementers at fixed intervals or depending on the novelty of the topics or activities covered.

Other tasks to be performed in relation with the workshop monitoring are summarised in Table 4 below.

Table 4: Monitoring Tasks

Who is being monitored? Type of monitoring Product of monitoring
Project team/ counterpart training unit
  • The client organisation may assign an “evaluator” to assess the workshop
  • A report from the client organisation
Facilitators
  • Facilitators may undertake self appraisal throughout the workshop
  • Feedback may be provided by co-facilitators
  • Feedback may come from participants
  • Combined appraisal methods: evidence of learning may be compared to objectives, for example by examining completed flipcharts, group work outputs, or individual presentations
  • Possible adaptation or adjustment of training
  • Daily debriefing
  • Weekly assessment (if needed)
Participants
  • Depending on length of workshop, assign participants as peer evaluators
  • Daily written and/or verbal appraisal can be provided
  • Facilitators should try to ensure that feedback is relevant, and that the feedback process does not become boring, monotonous or repetitive for participants
  • A variety of creative relevant appraisal techniques should be used daily in sessions
  • Written evaluation sheets/forms on materials, logistics, training quality, trainers, contents relevance and application, and areas of improvement

 

Facilitator evaluation

Reflection

Asking participants a few questions during the workshop can help check what facilitators could be changing. Questions could include:

  • What is one thing I could do differently next time in my role as facilitator?
  • What would you like me to be doing that I am not?
  • What could I have done to make this meeting more productive?
  • What should I be doing to make you (the team) self-sufficient (not need me)?
  • What has to happen for you to rate our meetings a "5?"
  • These could be done at the end of sessions or at the end of the day before the workshop is completed. However there is a danger that participants will not want to offend and will give facilitators a very positive review.

Observe participant outputs

You can often learn a great deal about your own work by looking at the work the participants do in groups. Although subjective, if you can see that their flipcharts etc are poorly put together, or not complete, or that discussion is off the topic this suggests either 1) the task and or roles were not clear 2) the task is not seen as relevant to needs 3) there is something wrong with the group dynamics – or some combination of these. Keeping notes on whether these occur and what remedial strategies you took is a useful way to add to the training process evaluation.

Closing the workshop

Like opening ceremonies, closing ceremonies are an important formal activity. To mark the conclusion of a BRIDGE workshop, it might be appropriate to organise a lunch or dinner for the participants and the key personnel involved in the project.  It is perhaps even more important to have such people handing out the completion certificate to their ‘employees’ than having them provide welcoming speeches at the start. Local protocol officials should also be consulted on these matters. Refer to the Facilitators Notes for more information on closing activities (including simple things like having participants stand in circle and exchanging positive comments on their respective performance as a form of goodbye; presenting them with mementos (gifts); taking group photos; conducting informal evaluations; and giving speeches).

A typical closing ceremony (following a lunch) could proceed as follows.

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      14:00 Participants assemble in the training room (where furniture has been moved during the lunch break and seats rearranged in theatre-style, with a table for VIPs at front).

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      14:10 The Master of Ceremonies (facilitator or project manager) introduces a VIP from the client organisation (for example, a Commissioner).

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      14:15 The Commissioner delivers a concluding speech.

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      14:20  The Master of Ceremonies invites the Commissioner to hand out certificates as names of participants are called (photos of presentation taken by administrative assistant) – this procedure should be practiced first, so that everyone is standing in the right place to facilitate efficient  presentation and photography. If mementos are given, they should be handed out in line after certificates have been distributed.

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      14:30  Everyone is invited to assemble for a group photo (ensuring that key people are in the photo, not taking them, and using at least two cameras for good measure).

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      14:40 The project manager concludes with any housekeeping matters (for example inviting people to check whether they have all of their belongings), organises an informal goodbye activity if appropriate, and ensures facilitators say goodbye to all participants (thanking them for their participation) before they leave.

Certificates

At the end of a workshop, in addition to key tools and resources to take back to their agency and modules containing theory, practice and resources relating to each electoral administration topic, participants receive a certificate of completion or a certificate of attendance.

BRIDGE certificates follow a standard format that contains the BRIDGE logo, BRIDGE partners’ logos, dates, venue, and description of the workshop.  A generic certificate can be downloaded from the facilitators’ section of the BRIDGE website. It is important that close attention be paid to listing donor and supporting organisations and placing logos in an adequate manner, getting the appropriate person to sign the certificate, and, of course, ensuring that names are correctly spelled and calligraphed, if hand-written rather than printed.

The BRIDGE Office should be sent records of who has completed the module (participant list), and whether any facilitators received their full accreditation at this workshop. At this stage, BRIDGE workshops do not accrue credits towards any university course.

Generic templates for the BRIDGE certificates (for workshop completion, and both partial and full accreditation) can be obtained from the BRIDGE Office.

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