Participant observation parallels the principles of community based participatory research (CBPR), recognizing that each community should be understood in its own context. Using fieldnotes from the Métis Settlements Life Skills Journey (MSLSJ) program, the authors explore the benefits and challenges of using participant observation in CBPR program evaluation. Participant observation was incorporated in 2014 and 2015 as researchers sought a complementary perspective and context to determine the impact of the program. The authors explore relationships with a large number of stakeholders (children, facilitators, community members, and project staff) and discuss ensuring the participant observer’s perspective is not privileged above others.


Cross-Disciplinary Methodology, Mixed-Methods Design, Qualitative Evaluation and Social Policy, Community Based Participatory Research, Participant Observation

Author Bio(s)

Brent Hammer is a PhD (ABD) candidate and instructor in Cultural Anthropology at the University of Alberta. He specializes in conducting participant observation and facilitating evaluation data collection and analysis. Brent's research interests include the intersection where people, place, and practice engage to shape cultural identity. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: bhammer@ualberta.ca.

Fay Fletcher, Associate Dean in the Faculty of Extension at the University of Alberta, Canada, has focused on the integration of research and teaching with the intent of making adult education more accessible, relevant, and meaningful for Indigenous learners. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: fay.fletcher@ualberta.ca.

Alicia Hibbert has worked as an applied researcher since 2010 at the University of Alberta, working with First Nations and Métis communities to build resiliency among children and youth. With a background in Anthropology and Humanities Computing, she has an interest in adapting research and knowledge translation methods to the local context to improve program outcomes. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: ahibbert@ualberta.ca.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.





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