Triangulation: Compare and Contrast Data


  • To compare and contrast data from different sources
  • To find patterns of similarity and discuss their meaning
  • To find patterns of difference and discuss their meaning
  • To summarize the main points of similarity and difference
  • To synthesize information from different research


  • Flipchart paper
  • Markers
  • “Triangulation for a Single Cause” handout (several per participant)
  • Summaries of main points from analyses
  • Materials prepared based on the data collected during the YPAR project

Prepare Before

This lesson should be taught once/if you have data through multiple data collections.  Be sure that you have looked over the results of the data collected and prepared in each of the topic areas. Let the participants know in advance what the data have to say about the root causes and how they connect to your issue.

Warm Up

Which research method do you feel you have the best understanding of the process and the results (e.g., surveys, focus groups, photovoice) ?  Why?

Which research method did you enjoy the most?  Which research method did you enjoy the least?  Explain.


Today we are going to start to synthesize what we have learned from different research methods.  Assign smaller groups to work on each cause (independent variable). For each cause, you are going to fill out the Triangulation handout where they will list the products (what research and how many), the summary findings and most importantly, what the findings mean.

The results do not have to agree – in fact, it would be unlikely that your results will all agree with each other.   You are just looking to summarize what you have, to notice the differences and the similarities, and to use all this information to move forward.

Note:  The research group may not have selected all the methods; and not all the methods apply to each of the topics.  That’s okay.  Also by this time, the results of the information collected by each data collection method should be available.  If they are not available, youth researchers will have to obtain those results first. Also, this might be easy to do on chart paper rather than worksheets so the information can be displayed.

Give each data collection group the Triangulation handout, and ask them to complete the form or create one on chart paper.


What was difficult about summarizing the main points of the various research methods?  Which research method was difficult to review and create a summary of main points?

What was easy about summarizing the main points of the various research methods?  Which research method was easy to review and create a summary of main points?

Did you identify any patterns between the main points from the various research methods?  Similarities? Differences?

Were you surprised by any of the results from the various research methods?


Data analysis is about putting the whole picture together.

Triangulation means bringing together different sources and types of data on the same topic to see whether the results that come from one type of data collection confirm or contrast with the results from another type of data collection.  In other words, how do the results from the surveys compare or contrast with the results on the same topic from the focus groups?   The information does not have to agree.  We will use all of it to determine our next steps. Researchers use triangulation to determine if their research is “true” (that the findings accurately reflect the situation) and “certain” (that the findings are supported by evidence).


Ask the participants to return to their groups, and respond to the following questions on a large sheet of poster paper:

  • What are the main points that can be drawn from all of the research methods?
  • According to this information, does our original hypothesis hold up?  Why or why not?
  • Does this research accurately reflect the situation? Is it “true”?   Why or why not?
  • Are the research findings supported by evidence?  Is it “certain”?  If yes, how?  If no, what is the evidence telling us?
  • Gather any supporting research data that you can use to support your statements during your presentation (i.e. survey summaries, charts, graphs, photos, etc.)

Each group will report out what they’ve found to others.