I have been working on my project for about 6 weeks now. I am working with a team of five at the Pulte Institute doing an evaluation of a USAID project in Honduras. The project is called Empleando Futuros and it is a employment training program that works with young people in four different cities around the country. The project collaborates with local service providers and employers to help young people prepare for future work and studies through lessons, activities, and meetings with mentors. The first four weeks or so we were working on coding the interview transcripts sent from a data collection agency in Honduras. We separated the responses by theme in a large spreadsheet and then assigned codes. We did this for the set of interviews with ex beneficiaries then the service providers and finally the employers. For the past two weeks we have been working on aggregating the qualitative codes into a more useful format for analysis.
As we move into the analysis phase, I will be looking at the data through a slightly different lens than the rest of the team. We have all been working together to get the data into a useful format, but they will be preparing a larger report for the official evaluation while I look at how gender impacted ex beneficiaries’ decisions to enroll in the program. While it has been a different type of research project in many ways than what I was expecting, I have definitely been able to apply some of the skills from the research methods course into this work. Working with transcripts from professional interviewers is interesting to observe some of their techniques in interviews. Coding the data for themes has also been challenging, but I can see how important that step was. It is also interesting to be working on an evaluation research project because in many of my IDS courses, we discuss the importance of evaluations for development projects, but also how expensive and time intensive they can be. I am grateful for this first-hand experience working on one so I can understand their role better in the future.