|Methods for the Evaluation of the Impact of Food and Nutrition Programmes (UNU, 1984, 287 pages)|
|10. Anthropological methodologies for assessing household organization and structure|
During the past decade a major change has occurred in ethnographic field work strategies. Both the general conditions of research and heightened concern with validity and reliability of household data have encouraged (sometimes necessitated) greater use of local community persons as researchers. In addition, heightened local community interest in various research-and-development projects has increased the need for direct community participation in the planning and implementation of various projects, both theoretical and applied. In some instances, local community participation complicates research and evaluation efforts, particularly if local level factionalism and politics enter into research team recruitment and training. However, effective utilization of local expertise concerning cultural and social features can increase the quality and quantity of household data and thus facilitate more effective evaluations.
The training of household interviews,, and careful monitoring of their work, is essential. One effective training method is role playing, in which interviewers administer the schedule to each other, with critique provided by the project supervisor. Completed interviews should be reviewed in detail, especially during the early stages of data collection, but continuing throughout the data collection period. Among the important aspects to monitor is the correspondence between the answers respondents are giving to questions and the intent of questions.
In the basic household interview, missing data are very troublesome. Pretesting should eliminate those items that will not or cannot be answered by most respondents, so that for the most part, missing data in the final form of the interview schedule may be regarded as a problem of interviewer technique Interviewers will need help to develop skills for probing and handling difficult questions.
There are several strategies that can be used to address the difficult problems of reliability and validity with household data of the types required here. Deliberate falsification of information occurs, particularly in socially sensitive areas. (Topics of sensitivity will vary from one cultural setting to another, so that these potentially difficult areas have to be discovered through ethnographic work). Generally, however, misinformation is the result of misinterpretation of the meaning of questions. The importance of integrating ethnographic work, pretesting and discussing the results with local key informants cannot be stressed too strongly as the major check on quality control for socio-cultural data.
Another control for reliability is to use multiple indicators rather than relying on the response to a single item. When several items can be combined into a constructed variable (a scale or index), statistical procedures to test for scale reliability or coherence can be applied, providing a further check on data quality.