1.2 – Collecting and Sorting Ideas

Welcome to the second module in our self-directed tour. After your review, you will know:

  • roles of the participant in GCM
  • roles of the researcher
  • the first four phases of the GCM process
  • how to think about GCM decisions in a particular setting

Read the Scenario: What’s My Role?

Sally is intrigued by what she has learned about GCM so far. She thinks it would be a good fit for her project. She’d like to know more about how the process works. Specifically, she wonders what her own role will be.

She imagines the GCM process will be a give and take between her and her stakeholders. What are the things she will need to do? What will her stakeholders need to do? How will they work together to collect and sort the ideas generated by the group?


A Practical Look: Collecting and Sorting Responses to Create the Data Set

Click below to learn about the roles of the participant and the researcher in the first phases of the GCM process. After you read this, continue to make a recommendation for Sally.

The Researcher and the Participants

Group Concept Mapping (GCM) is presented in Lesson 1 as a seven-step process. It is used to access the “wisdom of the group” and facilitate decision-making. GCM allows researchers and participants to find a solution that considers all the input.

1We are about to look at the first four steps of the process. First, let’s define the two main roles in GCM: the researcher and the participant.

researcher

The researcher

The researcher is the person planning and implementing the project. This person initiates activities, such as idea generation and response sorting.

participant

The participant

Participants are the people who have agreed to contribute to the project. They respond to the researcher’s invitations and requests.

In the context of the GCM process, the researcher is the person responsible for addressing a challenge, or needing to reach a decision. It’s the researcher who needs to consider a range of opinions in answering an organizational question.

The participants are the stakeholders who have knowledge and opinions. The group of participants possesses the wisdom the researcher is interested in discovering.

 

Check Your Knowledge



In the next lesson, we’ll see how the researcher and the participants interact in the first four steps of the GCM process. Click on “Topic 2” below to move on to the second section of this lesson: “A Look at the First Four Steps of the Process”.

A Look at the First Four Steps of the Process

 

Group Concept Mapping (GCM) is presented in Lesson 1 as a seven-step process. The lighter blue of steps 1, 3, and 5 indicate those steps are the responsibility of the researcher. The darker blue of steps 2, 4, and 6 indicate they are the responsibility of the participants. Both the researcher and the participants contribute to step 7.

Let’s look at the first few steps: General Planning, Idea Generation, Data Development (and planning), and Organizing.

Step 1 of the GCM Process

In step 1, the researcher plans the project. She determines the central question (the “focus prompt”) she will use to get to the root of the concern. Typically, the focus prompt takes the form of an open-ended statement like this:

 

“To build national wellness in our communities and for our people, we should…”.

The focus prompt is the keystone of the project, so it’s important for the researcher to take the time to carefully craft it so that it will generate the data needed to get to the root of the concern.

In step 1, the researcher thinks strategically about whom she wants to, or should, invite to participate in the GCM project. Then she recruits participants.

Knowledge Check



Step 2 of the GCM Process

In step 2, participants are involved in idea generation. They provide responses to the focus prompt.

An Example – The Future Foundation

Here’s an example of how the researcher and the participants work together in steps 1 and 2 of group concept mapping. In this example, The Future Foundation is an organization that focuses on how to build national wellness. This organization has decided to use GCM to access the wisdom of the group on the topic of how to build national wellness in communities.

The focus prompt they used was: “To build national wellness in our communities and for our people, we should…” The participants were asked to finish this sentence.

Some of the responses to the prompt “To build national wellness in our communities and for our people, we should” were:

  • include corporate wellness as part of a community or regional initiative, recognizing businesses that promote workplace wellness;
  • eliminate legal barriers that work to limit access to health and healthcare;
  • review programs in other countries that can serve as models to encourage health and mobilize communities nationwide;
  • secure support for evidence-based programs that are sustainable in the particular community; and
  • support access to quality healthcare for all, regardless of income or immigration status.

The researcher’s role in collecting statements follows, in step 3.

Step 3 of the GCM Process

In this step, the researcher collects the response statements. She then gets ready for sorting and rating by preparing the statement set, editing to remove repeat ideas and to make sure that all ideas are clear. The researcher produces a manageable sized set of statements that fully, but not redundantly, represents the full range of ideas generated.

Step 4 of the GCM Process

In step 4, the participants do two important activities: sorting and rating responses to the focus prompt. Let’s look at each of these activities in some detail.

The first important activity of step 4 is sorting the responses. Each participant examines the full set of responses to the focus prompt and sorts them into groups.  The individual participant makes the decision about what ideas belong together in meaning, from one’s own point of view.

The second important activity that participants perform in step 4 is rating. Each participant attaches value to each idea based on variables the researcher is interested in learning about, such as importance or feasibility, for example.

To develop an understanding of step 4, let’s look at the Future Foundation example.

Sorting Future Foundation responses

The Future Foundation used the focus prompt “To build national wellness in our communities and for our people, we should…”. Participants gave responses to complete that sentence in step 2 of the GCM process, and the researcher collected the responses in step 3. In step 4, the participants sorted the responses.

One participant found the statements below to be similar or related and sorted them into the same group:

  1. help employees understand how to be responsible consumers of care;
  2. support work-life balance to positively affect health of employees; and
  3. review and share how increased health positively affects productivity, profit, and other business functions.

The same participant found these statements to be not similar or related in meaning:

  1. review and share how increased health positively affects productivity, profit, and other business functions;
  2. frame health as a form of lifelong learning through interaction and community resources; and
  3. support access to quality healthcare for all, regardless of income or immigration status.

A researcher is likely to find that participants sort the response set in many different ways. When the researcher aggregates the sorting results from every participant, it will be obvious that some response statements were sorted together by a lot of participants, and some were by very few participants, or not at all.  This is what the researcher will look for in the analysis phase.

Rating Future Foundation responses

The researcher at the Future Foundation could ask participants to rate the importance of each idea using this scale:

1= relatively unimportant
2= slightly important
3= moderately important
4= very/extremely important

Some participants might rate “help employees understand how to be responsible consumers of care” extremely important (4). Some might rate “frame health as a form of lifelong learning through interaction and community resources” as only slightly important (2). Each participant’s sorting result and ratings feedback become part of the project’s data set.

Knowledge Check



A Back-and-Forth

The GCM process consists of a back-and-forth between the researcher and the participants. We can see this in the first few steps of the process.

The researcher invites participants for idea generation, then the participants take part in that activity. The researcher invites participants to organize their ideas, then the participants sort and rate their responses. The process requires both the researcher and the participant to move ahead.

Creating the Data Set

By the end of step 4, the researcher has what we have referred to here as a “data set.” Before we move on to an examination of the next steps of the process, let’s take an illustrated look at how the data set is created in the GCM process. View the presentation below.

Knowledge Check



Make the Recommendation: A Clear Role

Sally-Scenario-Talking-300x200

You have seen that there are two roles in the GCM process: participant and researcher. The process is a back-and-forth between researcher and participant, with the researcher planning and inviting action and the participant contributing ideas and values.

Are you ready to apply your knowledge? Take the quiz next.

Quiz



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