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

TAG | infographics

Hi all! My name is Gaelyn West and I serve as the State Government Representative and Board Member for the Southeast Evaluation Association (SEA). My work experience includes program evaluation, strategic planning, and grant development in state government.

One of the most important tasks that evaluators face is relaying their evaluation findings to a lay audience. Most often, evaluators do this with charts and graphs. However, infographics are rising to the forefront as an innovative way to display data quickly and clearly. Infographics are the visual representation of data. They can help tell the story of your evaluation in a creative and compelling way.

Hot Tips:

  1. The data used in your infographics should be reliable, timely, and relevant. Your data should always come from a credible source, should represent the most recent statistics available, and should not contain any distortions. In any case, your data should stand up to tests of reliability and validity.
  1. Remember The Six Basic Principles of Design:
  • Unity / Harmony – proximity, similarity, continuation, repetition, rhythm
  • Balance – symmetry, asymmetry, radial
  • Hierarchy – trees, nests, weights, timeliness
  • Scale / Proportion – size, ratio, divisions
  • Dominance / Emphasis – highlight, color, size
  • Similarity and Contrast – light and dark, bold and italic
  1. The purpose of an evaluation is to create an objective and compelling story that can help judge the merits of a program, improve a program, and/or generate new knowledge. Infographics can be used to illustrate information about the program context, implementation, need, or outcome/impact. Your infographics should highlight the story you want to tell about your evaluation findings.
  1. “Shareability”. Evaluators can customize Infographics to fit any shareable platform, such as reports, presentations, posters, and social media marketing. The list goes on! It is important to know the communication method your audience will most likely utilize and prefer. Will a one-page memo be the most effective way to share your evaluation findings? Would an interactive presentation, a video, or an online article work? You can easily tailor infographics to fit the chosen platform.

Rad Resources:

  • Microsoft Excel: A common and versatile spreadsheet software for creating visuals.
  • Microsoft PowerPoint: A common and easy to use presentation software.
  • Venngage: A simple infographics creator with templates and customization options.
  • Canva: A design program for creating Web or print visuals.
  • Infogram: A drag-and-drop infographics creator offers flexibility and independence in designing visuals.
  • Piktochart: A good beginner infographics creator in which users can customize set templates.

 

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Southeast Evaluation Association (SEA) Affiliate Professional Development Week with our colleagues in the SEA Affiliate. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from SEA Affiliate 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.

Greetings! I’m Rose Hennessy, Adjunct Professor in the Helen Bader School of Social Welfare and a Doctoral Student at the Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health, both at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. In teaching Program Evaluation to MSW students, I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to collaborate with Jennifer Grove and Mo Lewis at the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC).

In the short duration of a semester, it can be difficult to provide students the opportunity to practice engaging with stakeholders and translate evaluation findings. In conjunction with NSVRC staff, we proactively identified recent research articles of interest for sexual violence prevention practitioners. Busy professionals frequently do not have time or access to recent publications, but in academia we can play a role in getting current research out in digestible ways! Students are assigned articles and asked to create infographics of key themes and implications to meet stakeholder needs.

Lessons Learned:

  • Students learn a new technology best with hands-on learning. A free infographic program is taught to the class in a computer lab where they can learn and practice. Walking through skills step-by-step with a guided handout promotes a new skill and program.
  • Assignment scaffolding models the stakeholder process. Four different assignments are used for the project, allowing for feedback, revisions, and reflection. Students review the NSVRC website for content, design, and values. They critique their article to pull content specific to the stakeholder, create and present the infographic, and use class feedback to reflect and create revisions.
  • Presenting infographics allows for shared learning of evaluation concepts. Students review creative ways to share qualitative and quantitative findings, examine different study designs, discuss how to present null findings, explore various visualization options, and gain experience utilizing critical feedback from peers.
  • More time is needed to promote culturally responsive evaluation. Research with diverse populations was intentionally chosen for review, but many students lack prior experience translating findings across cultures. Providing readings to assist students, setting up ground rules, and allowing more time for reflection and discussion is necessary to help students process evaluation results in a culturally-responsive manner. Conversations also highlighted the need to differentiate between collaborative approaches and culturally-responsive evaluation, and new readings have been identified for future courses.

As an instructor, a collaborative project with NSVRC provides students the opportunity for learning with real-world applications. There was high motivation for the creation of projects that can be used by a national leader in the field, and students leave the class with new skills in the translation of research, study design, visualization, and dissemination!

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating ¡Milwaukee Evaluation! Week with our colleagues in the Wisconsin statewide AEA Affiliate. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our ¡Milwaukee Evaluation! 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.

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.

· ·

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.

 

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 Elissa Schloesser, I’m a freelance graphic designer specializing in communicating complex information and ideas. I work specifically with mission-based organization, and partner with a number of evaluators to create communication pieces that summarize evaluation findings for use with funders, potential supporters, and to be more broadly shared with the public.

Below are the key steps I use to translate evaluation findings into an infographic. Don’t be afraid if you’re not a designer, I find the most critical design stage comes before putting anything on paper.

Hot Tips:

Step 1. Define your purpose

Why am I creating this piece? What do I hope it will accomplish?

This step is critical. If you can’t answer these questions you should stop before moving onto any other steps.

Step 2. Know your audience

Who is my target audience? What knowledge level do they have of the subject?

This will help you determine how much and what details you will need to include in your piece to make it relevant and understandable. For example, if the piece is targeted at a policy maker who isn’t an expert in your subject area, leave off the acronyms and insider terminology.

Step 3. Establish your key message

If my audience can only take one point away from my piece, what should it be?

Translate your evaluation findings into a key message. Make sure it is clear and included right up front of your piece.

Step 4. Translate your data/findings

What data/findings best support my key message? How can I communicate it in a way that is most understandable and relevant to my target audience?

Put your numbers in context. Make sure it is relevant to your audience and creates a visual image in their mind (i.e. equal to the population of New York City). This pertains to percentages as well (i.e. instead of says 75%, say 3 out of 4).

If your findings are more conceptual (i.e. partnerships are the key to the organization’s success). Draw a simple diagram that shows how various items relate.

Step 5. Create your infographic

Start sketching your concept on paper. It will give you much more freedom to manipulate your idea before moving to the computer. Once moving to the computer, limit your color palette to 2-3 base colors and eliminate any unnecessary borders, shading, or 3-d graphs in your visuals.

StepsforTranslatingEvalFindingstoInfographics

Click on Graphic for Larger View

 

Rad Resource: I typically will create infographics or summary pieces using Adobe or Microsoft products, but here are some templates options that I have seen recommended.

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on theaea365 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 theAmerican Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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