Principle 4

Principle 4:

Promote co-learning and capacity strengthening among all partners

This principle is about strengthening the capacity of the research partnership for meaningful engagement in the research process at all stages. Central to this is the valuable exchange of knowledge and skills within and across the research partnership. The competencies associated with this principle are focused on recognising different forms of knowledge and skills and embracing different learning styles and needs. As well as learning from within the research partnership it is important to identify what other skills and knowledge are needed that cannot be delivered by anyone in the partnership so that they can be brought in.

Competencies and/or conditions

  • Ability to understand, listen to, and learn from diverse people. 
  • Ability to assess and communicate the immediate, potential, applied and realised value of social learning (‘a process of social change in which people learn from each other in ways that can benefit wider social-ecological systems (p.3)’ [4]
  • Capacity to share knowledge in different ways, that are accessible, relevant, and tailored to the context
  • Ability to develop capacity strengthening plans that meet individual and collective research and action needs
  • Skills to assess and support all partners to engage in a process of investigating, sharing and reflecting on what does or does not work in their practice, as well as on how learning together contributes to making a difference
  • Skills and knowledge for evaluation, training, and interdisciplinary collaboration
    • Brings together both academic and community learners as equal learning partners at all levels of training and research.
    • Enables contribution to methods and analysis in assessing social learning and pathways to impact in participatory research.
    • Encourages practitioners and researchers to work together towards enabling change-can lead to learning that allows for co-creation of knowledge, identity construction, and institutional development.
    • Developed expertise beyond research skills to work together to create new knowledge, enhance capacity, and foster positive social change.
    • Improved quality and validity of research by engaging local knowledge and local theory based on the lived experience of the people involved.
    • Co-produced knowledge with the potential to offer practical solutions.
    • Facilitates the reciprocal transfer of knowledge, skills, capacity, and power.
    • Increased self-confidence in the ability to take greater control over various aspects of ones’ lives through active learning and knowledge exchange.
    • Enriched interpretation of research findings through integrating different stakeholder perspectives, the potential for wider dissemination and translation of research results and enhanced research capacity.
    • Moves academic and community researchers ‘beyond behaviour’ to examine within person changes which modify the way in which we interpret and may act on our worlds.
    • Increased knowledge regarding central components and tenets of CBPR.
    • Create and evaluate a protocol  that captures the value of learning ‘enabled by community involvement and networking e.g. ; the value that networks or communities create when they are used for social learning activities such as sharing information, tips and documents, learning from each other’s experience, helping each other with challenges, creating knowledge together, keeping up with the field, stimulating change, and offering new types of professional development opportunities( p.7).’ [5]
    • Value creation stories: Collectively and individually create a landscape map and timeline to generate a graphical representation of learning activities where team members identify that immediate, applied and potential value has been created
    • Design the process of training to incorporate participants’ diverse learning needs
    • Develop individualized live learning plans that are customized to individual and collective needs with mentors to ensure that skills are being adequately developed and goals are being met [6]
    • Consider selecting priority areas of focus from a list of 19 core competencies (Table 1) that are operationalized (6)
    • Cross-country/project professional development events in which learners take a lead role as organizers. These events are designed to provide learners with opportunities to discuss and obtain feedback on key CBPR themes from experienced practitioners brought in as ‘learning buddies’ guest speakers or panellists(7).
    • Include diverse training approaches including a combination of didactic, experiential, interactive, dynamic, and mentored instruction (e.g. activities that encourage participants to stand up and move around the room, involve group or one-on-one discussions using content that is relatable to context and geographic location) 
    • Consider remote learning methods that are inclusive and consider barriers and enablers to participation(8)
    • Apply an integrative practice after framework addresses five CBPR domains; 1. What are the values or drivers behind the research? 2. Who should participate in the research, and how should they participate? 3. How are partnerships initiated, and how do they evolve? 4. What are the core elements of the research? 5. What is the added value of participatory research (PR) in each of the research phases? Addressing these questions can guide the application of PR principles, guidelines, and/or steps to the range of public health issues for which PR is suited(9)
    • Develop learning approaches that use visual methodologies particularly useful with youth, low literacy groups, and other marginalized populations. See Co-researcher experiences of training in Sierra Leone
    • Make explicit the learning programme components needed to develop the optimal capacity required in keeping with the agreed upon goal for each programme activity
    • Turn the list of priority capacity gaps into an action plan that is unique to each programme and has a goal, objectives, activities, and qualitative and quantitative indicators of progress
    • Apply ‘Most significant change’ exercise to assess changes in knowledge, skills and capacity
    • Create opportunities for participants to exchange skills, assist efforts to link those with skills inside and outside community to those with needs
    • Evidence that training has been adapted to meet diverse training needs e.g. see ‘Photo Gallery: Participatory Action Research training with the Dalit Bahujan Resource Centre’
    • Number and type of value creation stories produced that represent reconstructions of experiences, remembered, and told at a particular point, towards the end of the project
    • Demonstrated area of key learning from combining academic knowledge and community knowledge
    • Reflections on learning activities and their application into practice, and on what could be improved
    • Number and demographics of people involved in expert reference groups, workshop and training
    • Number/percentage of stakeholders who attended seminars and conferences to share new knowledge gained
    • Number of group and personal competency plans developed, implemented and monitored
    • Increased confidence in co-researchers and researcher’s ability to engage in CBPR projects and partnerships.
    • Evidence of changed practice following capacity strengthening or knowledge exchange
    • Indication of how members of the research partnership co-constructed ‘new forms of meaning and understanding in ways that were individually and collectively valuable, and applied that knowledge in their professional practice’
    • Set indicators for learning and practice for community researchers and academic researchers
    • Evidence that a change due to learning goes beyond the individual and becomes situated within wider social units or communities of practice
    • Evidence that learning occurs through social interactions and processes between actors within a social network
    • Thematic analysis of the value-creation stories to identify common thematic elements across participants’ experiences
    • Participant satisfaction surveys about the trainee, the learning environment, the effectiveness of the training methodology, the resources that were given and the experiences of the participants
    • Action plans that address challenges raised during training to ensure iterative learning processes
    • Evaluation feedback gathered from participants, focusing on the key learning points of project members, skills acquired, the relevance and value of the new knowledge gained
    • Confidence surveys
    • Workshop/training attendance documentation
    • Participants’ self-assessment of the usefulness of the training, behavioural intentions, policy advocacy behaviours, and self-efficacy and collective efficacy related to policy advocacy
    • Qualitative observation notes from learning sessions exploring participation, demonstrated statements of learning from participants and challenges to learning
    • Follow-up interviews with participants
    • Speaker lists from meetings, conferences, networks

*Please note that some statements are adaptations or direct quotes from the papers listed in the reference section