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DVR Week: John Nash on Tips for Submitting Proposals to the DVR TIG

I’m John Nash and I’m the program co-chair, with Stuart Henderson, for the American Evaluation Association’s newest Topical Interest Group, Data Visualization and Reporting (DVR TIG). I also blog at Reform By Design. I’m here to help you turn the work you may be doing with data visualization and innovative evaluation reporting into proposals for this year’s AEA conference.

Now you may be thinking, “you guys are just the ‘good PowerPoint’ TIG, right?”


Lessons Learned: Slide presentations are a prominent tool in an evaluator’s reporting kit. The question is are they as good as they could be? One lesson we’ve learned is that the answer is no. So, fostering excellent presentation design is definitely part of our gig. As Garr Reynolds notes, in his book Presentation Zen (2008), “…most presentations remain mind-numbingly dull, something to be endured by both presenter and audience alike. Presentation are generally ineffective, not because presenters lack intelligence or creativity, but because they have learned bad habits and lack awareness about what makes for a great presentation (and what does not)” (p. 11). Therefore, we are interested in promoting a dialogue on effective presentation design and delivery in the name of advancing useful evaluations.

Lessons Learned: Another lesson we’ve learned is that data visualization beyond what we may see and use day to day has great promise for evaluation reporting. Evaluators are no strangers to the graphical presentation of data – histograms, pie charts, line graphs are used every day in many ways. However, effective, useful reporting of evaluation results sometimes requires more elegant solutions than what our stat packages and online survey tools spit out. How can the visualization of data, writ large, help evaluation users assimilate information faster? Foster epiphany? Inspire awe? We’re hoping to find out.

Hot Tip: You have a chance to advance the cause. The DVRTIG is seeking proposals for the AEA Evaluation 2011 Conference to be held the first week in November in Anaheim. While you’re not limited to the following, you might consider proposals in these areas:

  • Define data visualization as it applies to evaluation.
  • Illustrate the use of data visualization for evaluation planning and analysis.
  • Translate complicated data into understandable visual mediums.
  • Explore alternative reporting options, including social media.
  • Chronicle efforts to make evaluation more beautiful and useful.
  • Report on empirical work examining the impact of visualizations on use, utility or stakeholder impact.
  • Demonstrate how data visualization, design, and aesthetics can enhance utilization.

The Call for Proposals and submission forms may be found on the Evaluation 2011 Conference Website. The deadline for proposal submission is Friday, March 18.

Do you have other ideas for proposals that you think would be a great fit? Please contact me (jnash@iastate.edu) or Stuart (stuart.henderson@ucdmc.ucdavis.edu) with an email to let us know your thoughts!

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Data Visualization and Reporting Week with our colleagues in the new DVR AEA Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our DVR members and you may wish to consider subscribing to our weekly headlines and resources list where we’ll be highlighting DVR resources. 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.

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