Conclusions On Evaluators’ Reading Speed by Sara Vaca

Hi AEA365 readers!

I am Sara Vaca, independent consultant and frequent Saturday contributor to this blog and while many of you will be coming back from AEA2019 (lucky you!), here I come with the results of the short-experiment-post of last month, where I collected data about evaluators’ reading speed.

First of all, thanks for the enthusiasm I have received as feedback, either through messages or through the participation on the survey itself.

Lesson Learned 1: The first thing I learned is that my basic surveymonkey account only allowed me to see the results of 100 responses, therefore I had to upgrade my profile to see the responses of the 255 people who answered!! (so this post has happily costed me 39€ :-)).

Lesson Learned 2: Also I need to acknowledge the limitations: beyond the limits of any survey, the test I suggested may have been easier for people who were familiar with the themes we had to read, and obviously, it was more challenging for those of us who English is not our mother-tongue.

Now, without further ado, overcoming the stage fright of presenting some data to an audience full of evaluators, here are the results:

Lesson Learned 3: The average reading speed of the 255 respondents was 318 words, distributed as follows:

In terms of groups per roles, the fastest was the researchers’, with 334 words average, then the evaluators’ (317), evaluation managers’ (312), then the others‘ group (308):

Regarding sex groups, the sample is not balanced at all, as only 16% of the respondents were men and 83% were women (will that be representative of the 7,000ish AEA365 subscribers?!). Anyhow, women were considerably faster (323 words) vs 282 words average of men:

The first table includes frequencies, while the second includes distribution within each category: the 80 women who scored 201-300 words represented 38% of them, while the 16 men who scored the same amount of words represented 40% of the respondents.

In terms of age, the fastest was those between 21-30 (347 words):

And those are the answers to the questions I asked myself. You may have other questions or insights.

Lesson Learned 4: I am not sure of the representativity of the random (not randomized) sample of colleagues who answered, but in view of these results, I am not that slow: my score 200-250 words per minute – still slower than the average, but at least I see now I am not alone.

Lesson Learned 5: Amongst the many competences evaluators need to have in our skillset (analytical, facilitation, communication), reading and understanding documents is critical: we need to read ToRs, strategies, program documents, reports, articles and other studies. So I really envy the fast readers and encourage them to enjoy their superpower.

… And for the rest of us that are not that fast, I learned that there are some techniques, platforms and companies that can help you improve our velocity I may end up engaging with – in which case I may come back with a third part of this post! Thanks again! 🙂

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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