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Group Level Assessment: A Large Group Method for Identifying Primary Issues and Needs within a Community

By: Published: 2014 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases Part 1
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In 2011, I used group level assessment, a qualitative and participatory large group research method, in collaboration with a disability education and research center situated within a large medical academic center. The center was concerned that their work lacked the input and involvement from the very people that they were attempting to serve (people with disabilities and their caregivers and communities). Although the center comprised disability experts (academic researchers and service providers), the voices and active involvement of patients, families, and the community were missing. The center wanted to be able to develop programs and interventions based on the primary issues and needs identified by people with disabilities. As a community-engaged approach, the group level assessment method involves bringing a large group of participants together to build a common research base through the co-identification of relevant needs, priorities, and action plans. The group level assessment process proceeds through the seven steps of Climate Setting, Generating, Appreciating, Reflecting, Understanding, Selecting, and Action. This case study highlights particular aspects and challenges of the group level assessment method, how it embodies the essence of participatory, community-engaged research, and how it differs from more traditional qualitative research methods (e.g. focus groups, interviews).

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