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Oct/17

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Making Stories Stick: The Power of Visualisation When Communicating with Young Evaluation Professionals by Antonina Rishko-Porcescu, Khalil Bitar and Bianca Montrosse-Moorhead

Hello, AEA365 readers! We are Antonina Rishko-Porcescu (Ukraine), Khalil Bitar (Palestine/Germany) and Bianca Montrosse-Moorhead (USA), from EvalYouth, a global, multi-stakeholders partnership which promotes young and emerging evaluators to become future leaders in evaluation.  Antonina is leader of an EvalYouth task force; Khalil is Vice-Chair of EvalYouth and Bianca is Co-Chair of the network.  We are excited to share what we have learned from EvalYouth’s use of visualization when communicating with our young audiences of evaluators.

We communicate a lot with a broad range of evaluators, especially young and emerging evaluators, and young people from around the world.  In this ever changing fast-paced world, we understand that using words is not enough.  Information must be clear, direct, coherent, and compelling.  One question we have explored is: how should we disseminate information and evidence in a way that draws novice evaluators in, and presents information in a meaningful way?

Examples:

  • Summarizing data collected through an international survey with young and emerging evaluators (e.g., here and here).
  • Summarizing results of received applications for the first EvalYouth International Mentoring Program (e.g., here).
  • Transforming the Network’s original logo to highlight special events and programs (e.g., here and here)

Hot Tips and Cool Tricks:

  • Visualization makes complex data easier to understand, but it is not easy to create good visualizations; it involves hard work and research. Do your homework.
  • Try to strike a balance between pictures and words. An infographic should include valuable information, not just cool graphics, but that too.
  • Use colorful designs and, when appropriate, humor. Doing so invites readers, especially youth and young and emerging evaluators, to read information.
  • Work collaboratively. Others bring fresh perspectives and new ideas, but also often feel more of an ownership of the project you are working on after it concludes.  Ownership often means that there is an excellent possibility they will share it with relevant contacts and on their social media channels afterward.
  • It is not enough to make a great infographic and stop there. Disseminate such work widely through mailing lists and social media outlets. There people will see your message and, very importantly, engage with it.

Lesson Learned:

  • Data visualization used well is a powerful communication tool. It can simplify complex ideas and big data in just a few items on an infographic.
  • Working with a team of people from many backgrounds or countries, helps a lot. What might be right, appropriate and trendy in one region or culture, could be the opposite in another.  Diverse team perspectives can identify and overcome such issues.
  • The ethics of data visualization is also important to consider. A well-done data visualization is a powerful tool! As Uncle Ben in the Spider-Man series said, “with great power comes great responsibility.”  Care should be taken to ensure that the visualization message is accurate, valid, coherent, and just.

Want to learn more about EvalYouth? Follow EvalYouth on social media: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube. Or, write to us: evalyouth@gmail.com.

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 aea365@eval.org . aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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1 comment

  • Ambreen Butt · November 6, 2017 at 10:17 pm

    Hello Antonina Rishko-Porcescu, Khalil Bitar, and Bianca Montrosse-Moorhead,

    Firstly, I would like to start of by saying that it is wonderful to see a global collaboration of evaluators coming together to write this article. I am a teacher in Ontario, Canada, and am in the process of completing my Masters of Education at Queen’s University.
    While learning about program evaluations, I have covered various topics ranging from the numerous types of evaluations to the utilization and misutilization of evaluations. I have been creating my own program evaluation design to assess the progress of students in a balance calendar school program. Your article enlightened me regarding the importance of using visuals to communicate results, findings, or theories of evaluation. I had not given this aspect much thought, but after reading your article and viewing the exemplars you provided I was able to see the power of using effective visualization. Your visual for the EvalYouth International Mentoring Program was effective in conveying information within a matter of minutes of looking at it, through your use of statistics, maps, and graphs. As you wrote, I feel visualization can definitely make complex data easier to understand.
    I intend to work on creating a visual for my evaluation and will keep the tips you have suggested in mind. I think there is a very delicate balance of how many words should be included in the visual, as I feel too many can become over whelming for the audience, especially for your intended audience which is the youth. In an era in which there is an overload of information, there are so many visuals that the youth is constantly looking at, whether it be through university/school readings, or social media. It is not just the youth who experience this over stimulation with visuals but adults as well, which makes it necessary for visuals to be made with attention to details, so that they appeal to the audience. They must be simple, immediately catch the attention of the viewer (through colour, style, font, images), and then keep that attention long enough to get the message across. As you mentioned, this can be done through humour, an effective slogan, eye opening statistics etc. Visuals can play a great role in spreading the results, findings, and ideas of an evaluation, and evaluators should strategize to use visuals to their advantage.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and resources,
    Looking forward to your response,
    Ambreen Butt

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