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Supports robust qualitative and mixed methods research for virtually any data source and any research method.

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Research in the field: Shooting Stars and the success of their community program

04 January 2018 - BY QSR International with Shooting Stars


Australian not-for-profit are utilizing NVivo to evaluate the success of their community program.

Shooting Stars is an initiative of Netball WA and Glass Jar Australia, which uses netball and other incentives, as vehicles to encourage greater engagement and attendance at school of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls living in Western Australia’s remote communities and regional towns. Through fostering collaborative relationships with the local community, Shooting Stars works with schools and service providers to implement a regular program of personal development activity and fun for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls.

Participation in the program enables girls to have a taste of success to improve their self-image, develop hope and aspirations about their future, and provide motivation to attend school to achieve those aspirations.

Following a successful pilot in 2014 in Halls Creek, the program had its full-scale launch into five locations throughout the State in 2015. Funded by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet through to the end of 2017 across six locations, Shooting Stars plans to expand to 14 sites in 2018.

Participants undertake a program that involves netball and physical education activities, such as swimming when the weather is too hot for a game, over two sessions a week. There are also two health and wellbeing sessions covering topics including nutrition and healthy relationships aligned to the Australian Curriculum.

A unique research challenge

Shooting Stars was faced with a unique challenge when wanting to both gather and analyze data to provide feedback on the program. Firstly, staff were dealing with a group of children ranging in age from primary school through to teenagers, and found that the standard method of paper-based surveys was not engaging and did not help in keeping the program as culturally centered as they desired.

To address this issue, a new method of data collection was established through consultation with local cultural leaders. The traditional indigenous yarning circle was presented as an alternative to paper-based surveys, to gain feedback from the girls in the program, in a way that encouraged open discussion.

“The yarning circle is really the idea of sitting around and ‘having a yarn’,” explained Rose Whitau, Research Manager at Shooting Stars – Midwest Gascoyne.

“We’ve found this to be a very participant driven piece of research, through the yarning circles, which are driven by a localised steering committee, made up of our staff, school staff, local cultural leaders, and the remote school attendance strategy provider,” she said.

The next challenge was that yarning circles produced unstructured data, in the form of audio recordings of the sessions, and they required a tool to analyze this data.

“We wanted to turn messy qualitative data into something that was easy to digest, and NVivo has allowed our team to do this,” Whitau explained.

“The purpose of using NVivo is to be able to evaluate the program ongoing, as we want our participants to have an impact on how the program is structured and delivered, which is very empowering for them,” she said.

NVivo is now being used throughout Shooting Stars locations to analyze the results of the yarning circles, of which there have been 22 so far.

“NVivo is the perfect tool for our needs, especially its ability to analyze audio files. Coming from an academic research background, I was quite familiar with the methodology, but I have also been able to easily teach the software to our other staff who come from a range of different professional backgrounds,” Whitau said.

Shooting Stars continues to affect real change, and work to empower indigenous Australian girls to stay in school and engage in their education, as well as maintain a positive attitude toward their health and wellbeing. You can learn more about the great work they’re doing on their website.