Measuring Wellbeing

We know from our research of wellbeing that it is a process that is ever-changing, and one that individuals will determine and work towards themselves. It is different for everyone, and achieving improved wellbeing should be intentional – taking action to ‘be well’. So, if wellbeing is individualized, the tool should be as well. 

Artful Moments - Participants talk with Janis about program research before their program begins.
Participants talk with Janis about program research before their program begins.

The study begins with asking the question – What do you hope to get out of the program today?

There is a short preamble about what wellness means, and that everyone defines it in their own way. We describe the six categories we are working with in our definition and offer a few examples to clarify meaning. We tell participants that their goals or intentions are their own, and they may answer in any way they wish. There are spaces for six goals or intentions but they do not have to fill all of them. At the end of the session, they rate their experience using a one to five scale. From the original tool, there are visual cues to assist understanding of the rating scale.

You will find a toolkit that contains more information about implementation, the tool itself, and the supporting materials and lists of words in the Materials section.

Some Questions

Who should fill these out?

The primary focus of our research is the participants, but in a shared experience, it is wonderful to consider the perspectives of others involved in the program – friends or family members who attend with their loved one, volunteers and support staff, and even facilitators themselves. Be sure to identify which category each respondent fits into so you can examine the data individually as well as together.

Why use a self-directed tool and not standard measures?

In all of our work, we hope to empower participants to lead their own experience. Our research follows that thinking. As wellbeing is as unique to each person, as are their motivations for attending our programs, it is important to capture individualized, authentic feedback. Based on our past data, we have discovered that there are several recurring themes in participants’ comments that have guided our formation of a definition for wellbeing at the AGH, and we anticipate that this tool will yield similar results.

Why ask for six goals or intentions?

When joining a museum program, we anticipate that at least one goal will be specifically tied to the content of the program. For us that could be something like ‘to see art’ or ‘to learn to paint’ (which are good answers that fit into the ‘Stimulate’ category, for participants who want to learn new things or test their skills). To inspire deeper reflection about other kinds of experience, participants are encouraged to consider multiple goals. We offer prompts to help them. They may choose from our list of words, or generate their own.

How do we support different and/or changing abilities?

We offer a brief introduction to the tool at the beginning and ensure that each person is given options on how to complete the tool. We check in with each person that they understand what to do next (approach). We ensure they have a quiet place to sit and write and we give them the time they need (environment). We offer supports in the form of large-print lists of suggestions that they may choose from. For some participants, they can have help from a friend or family member who has joined them. In other cases, we hope for the friend or family member to complete one themselves. We have also considered creating stickers with pre-printed choices that some participants could choose (activity). For participants who are non-verbal, choosing a goal from a list, and later choosing a ‘score’ by pointing will include a wider array of abilities.

If people create their own goals, how can we analyze data in meaningful ways? 

This research depends on thematic groupings. Our definition of wellbeing covers a wide range of categories. By tracking key words and phrases, you will be able to group them each into one (or more) themes for analysis.

Are there other tools or methods for collecting information?

We will continue to use questionnaires and focus groups in order to capture as much information and feedback as we can. The use of these less structured approaches will provide information to help keep the work relevant and meaningful for the museum and the participant. You will find our questionnaires and forms in the Materials section.