This summer Michael worked in the rural Mayan community of Rabinal, Guatemala to develop a survey tool to measure differences in empowerment between groups of students. He thought this project would be worthwhile because, as Israel[i] has noted, tools to measure empowerment should be adapted to local contexts. To his knowledge no such tool had been developed specifically for the Mayan youth population. To ensure the cultural relevancy of the research instrument, Michael recruited four young adults from the local university to join me as co-researchers on this project. Together, they reviewed the empowerment literature, conducted focus groups, and then transcribed and analyzed focus group results to identify themes around which their survey would be constructed. The Project culminated with their research team presenting preliminary findings to representatives of the local Ministry of Education. In addition to research outcomes, Michael also learned valuable lessons from the research process. Michael believe that the involvement of local youth as co-researchers improved the validity of findings, and also contributed to the empowerment of the research team.
[i] Israel, B.A., Checkoway, B., Schulz, A.J. and Zimmerman, M. Health education and community empowerment: Conceptualizing and measuring perceptions of individual, organizational and community control. (1994) Health Education Quarterly, 21: 149-170.