Good Day! We are Linda Scheu and Angela Baldasare, evaluation and assessment professionals working in higher education, at the University of Arizona.
One of the things we have learned in our combined 20 years of experience in evaluation/assessment work is in the evaluation process planning, collecting, and analyzing the data are almost equally paramount. However, it is the data presentation that will ultimately initiate how data and resulting information are used.
- Choosing the right method for sharing information: handout, report, slide presentation, etc.
- Setting up slides or report pages with good design principles
- Presenting charts/tables/graphs that are easy to read
Lesson Learned: Know what needs to be done with the information by end users.
Hot Tip: Slide shows are great to disseminate information, but paper reports are better for facilitating discussions.
Lesson Learned: Once the report/document is out of your hands, make it easy to share information. The report will go further if it is easy on the eyes and the results easily interpreted.
Hot Tip: Make an executive summary and make it modular so it can be extracted and presented on its own to stakeholders who do not have time to read big reports. Which would you read if you had 3 minutes? Which would you share?
Lesson Learned: The human brain has the built-in fundamental ability to recognize shapes, lines, contours. Take advantage of this, but don’t overdo it! Make note that 3-D graphs can be misleading.
Hot Tip: Clean up your charts and graphs
The more in a chart, the more the reader must interpret. Remove all that is un-necessary. Ask yourself: Are all those gridlines necessary? Do I need to include the data labels? Do the labels help the reader? Are the labels better off in a table?
Hot Tip: Take great care when using or interpreting 3-D charts. One thing the human brain has difficulty with is interpreting area, it is much better at interpreting height.
Lesson Learned: Be consistent and make it easy for a reader to understand the organization of information
Hot Tip: Align, Align, Align your charts, symbols, text boxes etc.
Not only does it help with comparison across charts, it helps with aesthetics. MS Word has a gridlines option under the “View” tab to help you align your visuals.
Rad Resource: We created a quick handout for our presentation at the 2012 AEA Annual Conference with a few more tips for increasing report and presentation impact. Also check out the previous posts on the AEA365 blog! Download it from the AEA Public eLibrary.
Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to firstname.lastname@example.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.