Hello from two scholars and two coasts! We are Mike Osiemo Mwirigi, MS, and Glen Acheampong, MPP. During our GEDI program year, we learned that evaluators and stakeholders are increasing their use of visuals to present data. Data visualization pioneers in evaluation have pointed out that a good visual can make evaluation results more user friendly. Effective visuals capture people’s attention, substitute for text and help reduce the lethargy of reading long reports. Last, they can tell a more memorable story.
We noticed that when talking about data visualization, cultural competency rarely comes up. Cultural competency in evaluation is the ability to engage with diverse stakeholders to “include cultural and contextual dimensions important to the evaluation” (American Evaluation Association, 2011). Data visuals can be interpreted differently based on cultural differences and, as a result, we interpret and react differently to the same stimulus.
The documentary West and East, Cultural Differences discusses how Easterners (Chinese, Japanese and Korean) and Westerners (Americans and Europeans) are tuned to differently interpret visual information. The documentary shared the following:
Hot Tip 1: Begin with a plan.
Data visualization can lose the intricacies of the story its telling. Further, some data visuals are complex and hard to interpret without an explanation. Evaluators should consider data visualization from the onset of the evaluation design to navigate exactly what the image should convey.
Hot Tip 2: Check and reflect stakeholders’ interpretations of data visuals.
When interpreting data visualization guidelines or rules of thumb we must note that these are not universal; what works for one population might be counterproductive for another. This is true for constructed meanings around colors, shape, and symbols. Instead, explore what stakeholders need and can digest.
American Evaluation Association. (2011). American Evaluation Association Public Statement on Cultural Competence in Evaluation. Fairhaven, MA. Retrieved from www.eval.org.
EBS. (2012, December 05). West and East, Cultural Differences. Retrieved July 06, 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZoDtoB9Abck&index=302&list=LLaTQQZHp4uDV7ubqPoaq4NQ
Emery, A. K., & Evergreen, S. (2014). Data Visualization Checklist. http://stephanieevergreen.com/dataviz-checklist/
Links to West and East, Cultural Differences
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