AEA365 | A Tip-a-Day by and for Evaluators

Jan/14

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Artineh Samkian and Joelle Greene on Graphic Timelines to Capture Qualitative Process Data

Hello! We are Artineh Samkian and Joelle Greene. Artineh is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Education at USC and Joelle is a Senior Research Associate at Harder+Co in Los Angeles.

Recently, we worked together to conduct an implementation evaluation of a place-based effort funded by First 5 LA. Because we are both very interested in evaluation use by various stakeholders such as decision-makers and community members, one of our goals was to produce stakeholder-friendly and easily accessible dissemination products.

We all know qualitative data, especially those gained in implementation studies and produce a lot of narrative text. Sometimes long narratives are not the appropriate means of reporting, because they are not always stakeholder-friendly. In real world applications, people (especially busy decision makers and community members) struggle to consolidate this kind of rich narrative data so as to extract the most important findings. We need to think of alternative ways to present process data, while still maintaining the richness of the content.

Lesson Learned: Producing visually appealing and content rich graphic timelines is one way to do just that. To accomplish this, the following steps are necessary:

  1. Collect good data: As with all qualitative studies, extended time in the field collecting rich observational and interview data will enable the production of your timeline(s).
  2. Code data for milestones: Be sure to align data collection and analysis to key milestones represented in your client’s logic model.
  3. Use easily accessible software: Using readily available and inexpensive software is both sufficient and useful when working in teams. We used Microsoft Publisher, which all of our team members had as part of their MS Office suite (Note: Available only for Windows).
  4. Use text boxes, graphic elements and color: Play around with text boxes, background colors, font styles and photographs (taken with permission). Use these visual elements strategically. For example, we highlighted key milestones by shading text boxes in yellow, thus helping these timeline points stand out.
  5. Create various forms: Think in advance of your dissemination needs and factor in time and resources to create various forms. We created Spanish translations as well as different sizes including large banner size prints to share in the communities.
  6. Facilitate dissemination and use: Build in time for review and member checking, especially by program staff. This time is valuable in ensuring stakeholder buy-in for the final product. Also, factor in time for sharing the timelines with various stakeholders.

Check out this GraphicTimelineExample.

We will be conducting a Coffee Break Webinar* January 30th 2:00 to 2:20PM EST (11:00 to 11:20am PST) if you’re interested in hearing more. To register, visit http://comm.eval.org/coffee_break_webinars/CoffeeBreak/

*Free for AEA members.

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