Hello all, I’m Kim Firth Leonard, American Evaluation Association (AEA) member since 2008, and President of local affiliate OPEN, the Oregon Program Evaluators Network. I currently work at Marylhurst University in Portland, Oregon, primarily on assessment of student learning and academic programs, though I also dabble in institutional research. I also do contract work in program evaluation via Leonard Research and Evaluation LLC.
Rad Resource – actionable data: I started the blog actionable data in 2011 and post somewhat regularly (a few times per month whenever possible) with a handful of friends and co-authors. The blog advocates for the collection of meaningful and useful data, and for wise use of that data. Our posts span a range of topics often related to program evaluation, though most focus more specifically on data and data use.
Hot Tips – favorite posts: Here are a few mostly recent, favorite and/or most visited posts authored by yours truly so far:
- 11/29/2011 – What data is not actionable? An attempt to further define actionable data is a post in which I babble about what I think actionable data is (and is not) and pose several questions that I myself don’t have answers to.
- 11/23/2012 – I posted on My love/hate relationship with pie charts. Though my opinion is already shifting on this topic, I love the conversation this post generated.
- 12/31/2012 – The Functional Art and growing as an actionable data advocate is the first in what I hope will be a series of posts about my experience in Alberto Cairo’s Infographics and Data Visualization MOOC (massive open online course) and includes a New Year’s resolution declaration.
- 1/11/2013 – Most recently, I posted Analysis Paralysis discussing decision fatigue, noting that “if we want decision makers to use data, we should probably understand decision fatigue.”
Lessons Learned – why I blog: For me, blogging is an opportunity to question, explore, and learn as well as to share what I know. To think together with my co-authors and anyone willing to read (and comment) along with us! A ‘manifesto’ for actionable data is here.
I also ‘micro blog’ on Twitter (@KimFLeonard), which has been a wonderful way to engage others with my blog and to find people who are doing interesting work. Between the blog and Twitter, I have discovered many wonderful resources and connected to other great evaluators (including Sheila B. Robinson, who is graciously co-authoring a series of posts with me).
Lessons Learned – what I’ve learned: How liberating and enlightening it can be to throw an idea online. Or to ponder something ‘out loud.’ And that blogging, especially when accompanied by conversation via social media, can be an amazing networking and learning tool.
This winter, we’re continuing our series highlighting evaluators who blog. 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.