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

TAG | data visualization

Hello, my name is Jayne Corso and I am the Community Manager for AEA. Posting on multiple social media sites requires good imagery, and on a low budget this can be tough. Images make your content eye-catching and can even add context to a post. On all channels, posting with images out preforms those without images. Canva is an easy and free way to create your own graphics, charts, infographics, and images. Today, I will show you how to create an image using free Canva formats, layouts, and photos.

Rad Resource: Choose your format

Each social media channel has a preferred image size. This size will allow your photos to be clearly viewed in a newsfeed. Canva takes the guess work out, and helps you create images specifically for each channel. They have an array of sizes you can choose from. You can even create a custom design by entering your own dimensions. For this example, we will be choosing the Facebook post format.

Rad Resource: Find a Layout

Canva offer many free layout that you can edit with your own content. Simply click on the layout you like and it will be added to your canvas.

Rad Resource: Edit your image

Once you have selected your desired layout, you can now add photos and text to your image. If you have a photo you would like to use, simply upload it to Canva under “uploads”. If you don’t have a photo, you’re in luck. Canva offers high quality stock photos for free. Browse the collection and find the one that works for your graphic. Once you find the photo, drag it onto the canvas.

Next, click on the text of your image and update the content. You can also change the color of text and backgrounds as you desire.

Once you are happy with your creation, download your image by selecting the “download” button in the right corner. Now you can post it to Facebook and promote your webinar!

I look forward to seeing lots of designs in my newsfeed!

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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Happy Saturday everyone!  I’m Liz Zadnik, aea365’s Outreach Coordinator.  I have a bit of a confession to make, I may have set too high of a bar with myself – I expected to share reflections from each of the books on my reading list last year.  Definitely missed the mark.  I’m disappointed in myself, but I’m ready to jump back in and start fresh!  So away we go…

I love design and creating accessible and relevant tools, so it made sense I was drawn to Stephanie Evergreen’s newest book, Effective Data Visualization: The Right Chart for the Right Data (I even preordered!).  I have long been a fan of her blog and contributions to the field – I was very excited to dive into the book as my summer beach read.  It offers research on visualization and how folks absorb and best interpret graphs and charts.

Lesson Learned: As a trainer, I’ve been conditioned to share what’s going to happen.  I offer background and some tips for practice (it’s not that simple, but you know…) and I try to be as straightforward as possible.  I’m not a great storyteller and this book helped bridge a gap for me.  It helped me over that last block.  I highlighted and underlined, “We visualize to communicate a point.  We also visualize to add legitimacy and credibility.”  Skills and new information don’t make something meaningful, it’s helping people synthesize the information and make connections.

Rad Resources: Discovering the opportunities of data visualization has been a very exciting process!  This book has really inspired me to discover new ways to tell stories and generate excitement for evaluation and research.  I’m positive I’ll be referring back to highlighted and dog-eared pages of the book, but I’m also interested in some online courses and learning:

I have a few more books on my shelf and even more on my wish list.  I’m hoping I’ll be able to share more thoughts with you in the future.  Feel free to share your favorites with me – I’m always looking for recommendations!

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.

This is part of a series remembering and honoring evaluation pioneers leading up to Memorial Day in the USA (May 30).

I am Rodney Hopson, Professor of Education Policy and Evaluation at George Mason University and former (2012) President of AEA. Asa G. Hillard III (Baffour Amankwatia II), is one of the evaluation pioneers documented in the Nobody Knows My Name (named after a book by James Baldwin) Project that uncovers the untold contributions of African American educational researchers and evaluators in the United States during the pre-Brown v. Board era. While Hilliard’s major work did not take place pre-Brown, he is a name associated with the Nobody Knows My Name Project and is a name that all evaluators should know.

Trained as an educational psychologist (University of Denver, 1963), Hilliard’s research and practice spanned educational policy, special education, anthropology, child development, and classical African civilizations, Hilliard was one of the first African Americans to provide a keynote at the American Evaluation Association conference (in 1988). Hilliard’s presentation was later published in Evaluation Practice (the precursor to the American Journal of Evaluation) in 1989 and provided ways for evaluators to think differently about data visualization, truth and evidence and the implications for cross-cultural evaluators.   In recent years, the American Evaluation Association has sponsored Think Tank sessions at its annual conference in his honor previously co-sponsored by Indigenous Peoples, MultiEthnic and Social Work Topical Interest Groups to introduce his practice to AEA members and conference goers.

Asa G. Hilliard

Asa G. Hilliard

When names like Ralph Tyler, Robert Ingle, and Marcia Guttentag are remembered, so should those like Reid E. Jackson, Asa Hilliard, and Rose Butler Browne. Their cumulative scholarship and evaluation agenda-setting both laid a foundation for policies, legislation, and counter-narratives that challenged the racial hegemony and institutional segregation that existed in the United States and contributed to the intellectual development of democratic, equitable, and culturally responsive evaluation more generally.

References and Resources:

American Psychological Association. (2016) Featured Psychologist: Asa Hilliard, III, PhD. Retrieved from: http://www.apa.org/pi/oema/resources/ethnicity-health/psychologists/asa-hilliard.aspx

Hilliard, A. G. (1989). Kemetic (Egyptian) historical revision: Implications for cross-cultural        evaluation and research in education. Evaluation Practice, 10(2), 7–23.

Hood, S. (2001). Nobody knows my name: In praise of African American evaluators who were    responsive. New Directions for Evaluation, 92, 31–43

Hood, S. & Hopson, R.K. (2008). Evaluation roots reconsidered: Asa Hilliard, a Fallen Hero in   the “Nobody Knows My Name” Project, and African Educational Excellence. Review of      Educational Research, 78(3), 410-426.

Hood, S., Hopson, R., and Kirkhart, K. (2015). Culturally Responsive Evaluation: Theory,        practice, and future implications. In Newcomer, K. and Hatry, H (Eds.). Handbook on           Practical Program Evaluation (4th ed.) (pp. 281-317). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Memorial Week in Evaluation: Remembering and Honoring Evaluation’s Pioneers. The contributions this week are remembrances of evaluation pioneers who made enduring contributions to our field. 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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Our names are Marc Wheeler and Salem Valentino and we are internal evaluators for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.

There is a lot of buzz today about infographics.  Many of you may have thought about using infographics in your evaluation reports to try to translate your findings more effectively.  We recently took the plunge and incorporated infographics in our 2013 Youth Outcomes Report .

For example, we created the infographic below to clarify the theoretical connection between the short-term outcomes we currently measure for each youth and those long-term outcomes of interest to many stakeholders. The graphic summarized a large quantity of research literature in a single infographic that was easily interpretable and concise.

Wheeler 1

Lessons Learned:

  1. High-quality infographics require a certain level of expertise; as we didn’t have the relevant experience in house, we contracted with an external graphic designer who delivered great results.
  2. Beyond experience, it also takes time to develop your infographics and get them right.  First, you need to figure out the story behind your data.  Then, what are the best ways to illustrate this story, while remaining true to the data?  For instance, we wanted to communicate effect sizes but didn’t want to take up space in our report explaining what they meant to a lay audience.  So instead, we developed the visualization below to better illustrate our story of the magnitude of youth outcomes.  Lastly, infographics require a number of iterations and can benefit from the input of diverse audiences.  Budget your time accordingly.

Wheeler 2

  1. Understanding your project needs will help you choose the right designer. We looked at several resources on the internet to find a graphic designer. For us it was important that our work with the designer was collaborative; we wanted to ensure the quality of the evaluation content. Due to our timeline, it was also important that our designer could design the entire report and not merely the infographics.  You may also want to ask your designer how comfortable they are with Excel or other types of data you will be using in the report.

Rad Resources:

Elissa Schloesser at Visual Voice – our designer’s 5 Steps for Translating Evaluation Findings into Infographics

Visual.ly’s Marketplace service will find a designer for you and help you create an infographic for one price.

Easel.ly is a website where you can create your own infographic for free.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Best of aea365, an occasional series. The contributions for Best of aea365 are reposts of great blog articles from our earlier years. 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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Hello! I am Erica Blue Roberts, a graduate of the AEA Graduate Education Diversity Internship (GEDI) program’s 2014-2015 cohort. Through the GEDI program I was an intern at the National Cancer Institute/National Institutes of Health (NCI/NIH) in the Office of Science Planning and Assessment (OSPA). OSPA is responsible for the development and coordination of NCI’s science planning and evaluation efforts; and specifically for evaluation, OSPA serves to monitor research trends and provide consultation to NCI staff on evaluation activities. As one of the two interns placed at this site, I was able to contribute significantly to the evaluation of a NCI intramural training program and it was through this experience that I learned:

Lessons Learned:

  • It is critical to recognize the presence of and differences in a “culture of evaluation” amongst the evaluators, the client, and the stakeholders. In this unique situation, myself and the other GEDI held the role of the evaluators, and our contextual background included being graduate students in public health and aspiring evaluators. Our client was internal to NCI but external to OSPA, and included biomedical researchers; and our stakeholders were comprised of other biomedical researchers. Therefore, it was important for us to check-in throughout the evaluation and assess whether our client’s vision of the evaluation design and purpose was aligned with our vision. It was helpful for us to use the Evaluation Tree (see Rad Resources) to understand the different theoretical perspectives underpinning evaluation.
  • It is important to attend to the ‘data visualization’ preferences and needs of the client. At the interesting crossroads of being an academic and a fledgling evaluator in an environment of biomedical researchers it was (at first) difficult to determine whether to present the evaluation findings through more traditional graphs and tables (found in scientific journals) or to use the latest data visualization techniques (see Stephanie Evergreen’s work). Based on the needs of the client we were able to achieve a blending of the two, and provide graphs that were both scientifically appropriate and visually appealing.

Rad Resources:

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Graduate Education Diversity Internship (GEDI) Program week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from AEA’s GEDI Program and its interns. For more information on GEDI, see their webpage here: http://www.eval.org/GEDI 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.

Hello! Our names are Natalie Wilkins and Brandon Nesbit and we are both evaluators at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC).

One of the projects we provide evaluation support for is the Injury Control Research Centers (ICRCs) program, funded through NCIPC. This has provided us with a number of important lessons learned around evaluating multi-site research center programs that are engaging in translational research and outreach.

There are 10 ICRCs across the country, funded to conduct innovative research on the prevention of injury and violence.  These institutions serve as training centers for the next generation of injury and violence prevention researchers and act as information centers on injury and violence prevention for the public.  ICRCs are also pioneering innovative approaches to the translation of research to practice. They conduct translational research studies and engage in a variety of outreach activities to translate research on evidence-based injury and violence prevention strategies into practice settings. For example, one of the ICRCs works with partners to assess their capacity for using research findings in their work, and then provides tailored technical assistance based on each partners’ specific needs to ensure research is translated into practice.  In addition to these “research to practice” activities, some ICRCs are also employing a “practice to research” approach to their translational research, leveraging their outreach activities and partnerships in the field to inform their research priorities.

As evaluators of this comprehensive, multi-site research center program, one of our challenges was to show the impact of the ICRCs’ translational research and outreach activities on bridging the gap between research and practice. To this end, CDC and the ICRCs developed a set of indicators to capture information on impact (e.g. studies, partnerships, outreach activities, development of research and practice tools, etc.). We display data on these indicators through Tableau, software that allows users to analyze, visualize, and share data in an interactive way.

Hot Tip: Visually presenting evaluation data through interactive dashboards allows stakeholders to glean their own insights while still ensuring key messages are communicated.  Tableau enables us to showcase the approach and impact of each of these unique research centers, while also providing the option of presenting a “bird’s eye view” of the impact of the entire ICRC program as a whole.

Wilkins & Nesbit

Lesson Learned:  Translational research and outreach can take many forms. Engage your stakeholders in the evaluation process early so you can ensure they have a clear understanding of the kinds of information you are looking for.

Rad Resource: For more information on how evaluators have used Tableau, check out the AEA365 archives- http://aea365.org/blog/?s=tableau&submit=Go

he American Evaluation Association is celebrating Translational Research Evaluation (TRE) TIG week. All posts this week are contributed by members of the TRE Topical Interest Group. 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.

My name is Brigitte Scott and I am the Evaluation and Research Specialist for the Military Families Learning Network (MFLN), which engages military family service professionals in high-quality, research-based professional development. The MFLN is part of the Department of Defense (DoD) – U.S. Department of Agriculture / National Institute for Food and Agriculture Partnership for Military Families (USDA/NIFA) and is also a part of eXtension—the online branch of America’s Cooperative Extension System (CES). Evaluation for the MFLN comes with a few challenges—leadership, PIs, and staff are spread out across the country; our cooperative funding agreement requires nimble and flexible programming (Hello, developmental evaluation!); and constituents in multiple institutions have different ways of communicating and varied reporting needs.

Lesson Learned: When I first began working with MFLN, I drew heavily on my background in qualitative methods, and all of my mixed methods reports took on a narrative form. However, the reports weren’t getting read. With competitive funding forever at stake in an era of sequestration, this had to change.

Enter data visualization. At AEA 2014, I took a two-day data viz workshop with Stephanie Evergreen. It was invaluable! My reports are still works in progress, but I know now they are being read. How? Folks are actually contacting me with questions! My reports are getting circulated at DoD, which has meant increased awareness of MFLN and a lot of kudos for our work. (It doesn’t hurt come budget time, either.) PIs and staff are utilizing the reports to discuss their progress against dynamic plans of work while focusing on the moving target of program innovation.

Hot tip: CES just celebrated its 100th birthday last year, but make sure your reports aren’t dinosaurs! Your reports—your efforts!—need to be seen and heard to be actionable. I like to think of CES as power to the people. If you agree with me, then give data viz a try to get your points across and support CES in making a difference in counties across the nation.

Hot tip: Data visualization isn’t all about Excel. Arrange key verbal points on a page with clean, clear data. Pull out a thread from a data story and expand it in a text box, or pick up qualitatively where your quantitative story said its piece.

Hot tip: Font and color matter. Use your organization’s visual identities in your reports to let readers know that your report concerns them and their work.

Rad resource: Check out AEA’s offerings on data visualization, including workshops, coffee breaks, and of course, the annual meeting data viz sessions. They really are amazing!

Rad resource: Stephanie’s workshops are a must, but so is her book. Check them both out!

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Extension Education Evaluation (EEE) TIG Week with our colleagues in the EEE AEA Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our EEE TIG members. 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.

My name is Amy A. Germuth,  and I am Founder and President of EvalWorks, LLC in Durham, NC and blog at EvalThoughts.com. Over the last year I have worked improving my reporting of findings to better meet my client’s needs and have a few great resources to help you do the same.

Rad Resource: “Unlearning Some of our Social Scientist Habits” by Jane Davidson (independent consultant and evaluator extraordinaire, as well as AEA member and TIG leader). She added some additional thoughts to this work and presented them at AEA’s 2009 annual conference in Orlando. Her PowerPoint slides for this presentation can be found at: http://bit.ly/7RcDso.

Frankly, I think this great article has been overlooked for its valuable contributions. Among other great advice for evaluators (including models or theories but not using them evaluatively and leaping to measurement too quickly), she addresses these common pitfalls when reporting evaluation findings: (1) not answering (and in some cases not even identifying!) the evaluation questions that guided the methodology, (2) reporting results separately by data type or source, and (3) ordering evaluation report sections like a Master’s thesis. This entertaining article and the additional PowerPoint slides really make a case for using the questions that guide the evaluation to guide the report as well.

2015 UPDATE
Read Resource:
Data visualization can help make reporting more accessible and visually captivating.  There is a great post on “What is data visualization?” and many posts from other aea365 authors.

Rad Resource: Why assume all findings have to be reported as a paper?  Try reporting using PowerPoint and heed the advice Garr Reynold’s provides in his great book “Presentation Zen Design” to ensure that you do not subject your clients to DBP (death by PowerPoint).

This post is a modified version of a previously published aea365 post in an occasional series, “Best of aea365.”  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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Hello, my name is Jayne Corso.  I am a Community Manager for the American Evaluation Association (AEA).

Pinterest is a wonderful tool for creating shopping lists and finding great DYI projects, but did you also know that it is a useful resource for finding interesting data visuals and info graphics? After all, Pinterest is a place to go to be inspired and to share ideas with others. In my initial post about Pinterest, I have listed some steps for starting your journey on the tool and finding ways to use Pinterest for motivation.

Rad Resources: How it Works

When you create a Pinterest profile, you have the ability to create boards that relate to your particular interests. Boards allow you to keep all of your related pins together and help you stay organized by subject matter. I’ve used my Pinterest profile below as an example:

pinterest baord

Use the search bar at the top to search keywords focused on your interests. I suggest searching for data visualization, presentations, research, and evaluation. These keywords will pull images, info graphics, research examples, presentation tips, and much more, which have been pinned on Pinterest by other users.

When you find an image you like, pin it to a board!  After you select pin, the site will prompt you to choose a board or create a new board. Now all of your related pins are in one place that you can easily reference.

pin exampkle     pin exampkle.png2

Rad Resource: Follow others on Pinterest

Similar to other social media sites, you can look people up by their names and follow them. When you follow someone, you get notified when they add items to their boards and their activity is shown in your news stream. Some of your favorite evaluators are already pinning on Pinterest including Kylie Hutchinson, Ann Emery, Stephanie Evergreen, and Chris Lysy.

You can also follow boards. If you come across a Pinterest board created by a user that you find particularly fascinating, you can follow that board and you will be notified when something gets added.

follow board

Rad Resource: Be Inspired

The greatest aspect of Pinterest is that you can be inspired by the work of others and keep a keen eye on trends within evaluations, research, and presentation. Pinterest encourages you to think creatively and find the best format for your evaluation or data.

AEA is interested in joining Pinterest. Tell us in the comments if this is something you would enjoy and find as a useful resource for your evaluations and projects!

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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Hello, we are William Faulkner (i2i Institute) and João Martinho (PlanPP), writing here on our own poster design process, which apparently worked well enough to impress some of the judges at AEA 2014. We were guided by a simple principle: understand what the target audience considers relevant and where this overlaps with that which we desire to communicate.

Faulkner 1

 

(Here’s a larger pdf of this poster: Network Analysis on a Shoestring_AEA2014)

We organized the content in three blocks:

  1. Orientation: what are we talking about and for whom is it relevant?
    • Who are you? The target audience – for whom we thought the content would be useful – because poster content is never relevant for everyone.
    • How do you collect data? We wanted to at least orient the audience to the range of types of data which could be fed into this tool.
    • Why would you use this tool? This box attempts to correct two common misconceptions: (a) that network analysis is only useful to map relationships between people, and (b) that producing a network visualization is the end of the process. The latter misconception inspires complaints that network analysts often produce attractive visualizations with little to no interesting interpretations.
  2. Main Message: what are the basic steps of using this tool? This block leads the reader through a tutorial on the main steps of using NodeXL emphasizing simplicity – in four steps NodeXL transforms raw data into a visualization. The section should display sufficient information to a solitary reader, but during the poster session itself at AEA we had one of the authors present with a laptop so anyone interested could play with a real dataset themselves as a way of reducing some of the mental entry barriers to starting to use the software.
  3. Examples/inspiration: The final block presents some concrete examples which illustrate the insights which network visualization (alone – even without the calculation of statistics) can supply.

Faulkner 2

Hot Tip: Focus on content first. The choice of a design tool should come after you can clearly articulate what you want to communicate and how this information is relevant to the target audience. Think about the gap you are trying to fill in the readers’ mind, and research how others communicated similar content. Second, as the design comes together, be strict about following the standard bank of recommendations about visual communication (less text, leave empty space, help the reader with cues about where their eye should go next). Once you have thoroughly thought through these aspects, the design should pretty much draw itself.

Rad Resource: NodeXL, of course! https://nodexl.codeplex.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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