Thermometer technique serves as an easy, accessible, and quick evaluation tool of particular activity/ies or even the whole programme. The main advantage of this technique is that it provides the possibilities for easy engagement without the need for verbal or creative expression. For this reason, using Thermometer is an ideal introduction to evaluation techniques. This technique can be used even during an activity — after a break, for instance. We can modify the technique with a change of questions; then, it is possible to measure motivation or the degree of agreement.
Although this technique is undemanding, with its help, it is only possible to get a basic understanding of the degree of dis/agreement with the question asked. It is up to the facilitator to decide whether this reflection was sufficient or just an introduction to following evaluation activities.
Being undemanding, this technique is suitable for groups of any size; this also includes larger groups. In such case, however, it is necessary to provide a sufficient time frame so the facilitator can register gestures of all participants.
When using the “1 question + time for comments” option, the technique’s time frame spans about 5 minutes. However, this depends on the group’s size and dynamics. In any case, this technique is time-saving.
The facilitator asks participants to stand in a circle so that all can see each other (if possible). Next, the facilitator asks a question to which the group reacts with gestures of both hands.
Arms low, near the ground, mean a negative answer.
Arms put out in front of oneself mean neutral reaction.
Arms extended upwards, above the head, mean a very positive reaction.
With hand gestures, we can create a scale on which it is possible to indicate slight differences from the 3 default positions. For instance, arms raised slightly above the ground designate a slightly negative reaction. As evident from the above examples, questions can be altered as needed. However, we do not recommend asking too many questions in a sequence because the activity will become repetitive and will lack dynamics. Ideally, use this technique multiple times during your workshop, or, a maximum of 3 subsequent questions during an evaluation.
To illustrate, questions may look like this:
How did you like the workshop as a whole?
How did you like this activity?
To what extent do you feel motivated today?
Do you agree with what has been said?
How much energized do you feel after the break?
Since this activity is evaluative, a discussion as such is not absolutely necessary. However, it is suitable to conclude the activity somehow. For example, you may thank participants for their opinions and assure them their opinions will be taken into account — that you will adjust the following activities accordingly, or you will incorporate their comments in the next workshops. As mentioned above, this technique gives access only to the group mood or the degree of agreement signalled by hand gestures. Therefore, it is suitable to provide additional time to comment on the gestures. To keep this activity on the low-threshold level, all comments should be expressed voluntarily. It is up to the facilitator to decide whether supplemental activity is needed, for instance, an option to leave an anonymous comment(s) in a box.