Inspiring data excitement at Evaluation 2019 by Tia Bastian and Carolina De La Rosa Mateo

Hi! We are Tia Bastian and Carolina De La Rosa Mateo at Professional Data Analysts (PDA), a public health evaluation firm based in Minneapolis, MN. We look forward to meeting many of you at the annual AEA conference this week!

Have you ever had that feeling of sheer giddiness when you get your first peek at data you worked so hard to collect? What surprises will you find? What new insights will be revealed? The anticipation is exhilarating. At PDA, we know that feeling so well that we embrace it as one of our core values – inspiring data excitement! We want to push the evaluation community to not only share in our data excitement, but also to reflect on what we are doing to engage all stakeholders in the data interpretation and sharing process. We invite you to engage with our display at Evaluation 2019: Paths to the Future of Evaluation by participating in activities to reflect on and generate ideas for inspiring stakeholder engagement with data. We offer the following tips for inspiring data excitement among evaluation stakeholders:  

  1. Create an interesting display: Present data in a way that is visually appealing and easy to understand for different audiences. This may include using data viz techniques, or using non-traditional methods. Come to the PDA display at Evaluation 2019 to collectively create a data string art masterpiece with fellow conference-goers.
  2. Make it interactive: Engage your stakeholders! Part of creating data excitement is interpreting data through a collaborative process with stakeholders who help shape the story of what the data reveals. Stop by our display to share your creative ideas for engaging stakeholders with data and then follow @PDAeval on Twitter to see the responses.
  3. Have fun! Data can feel intimidating sometimes, so we try to ease some of that discomfort by making it fun. Have fun meeting new people at Evaluation 2019 by picking up a “People Bingo” card at our 2nd floor display. Be the first to get BINGO and win a cool prize!
  4. Encourage critical reflection: After we’ve shared the story the data reveals, it’s time to reflect on the process and think through what we can do better. Who told the story? What was included or excluded? Who listened? After Evaluation 2019, PDA will reflect on what you all shared with us and report back in a follow-up AEA365 post. So, stay tuned!

Rad Resources:

  • Participatory analysis is a method that helps evaluators and stakeholders make meaning out of the data. Here is an overview of the process from Learning for Action.
  • Data walks are another strategy to engage stakeholders in data interpretation. Here is one example of how to use data walks to share data with communities presented by the Urban Institute.
  • Data placemats can help facilitate learning conversations, as shown in this previous AEA365 post from the Department of Evaluation and Learning at Jewish Family and Children’s Service Boston.

We look forward to seeing many of you at the conference!

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.

1 thought on “Inspiring data excitement at Evaluation 2019 by Tia Bastian and Carolina De La Rosa Mateo”

  1. Thank you Tia Bastian and Caroline De La Rosa Mateo for your article on inspiring data excitement.
    I am a master’s student at Queen’s University, enrolled in a program evaluation course. This has been my first look into program evaluation and I have not previously been inspired by data! You have given me a different way of looking at data and I am so thankful for your article.
    I loved the idea of using coloured beads or skittles to illustrate a data set and the idea of making data chocolates (one of your Rad Resources). I see a theme here, I like the data presentation methods that involve food!
    Having a narrative attached to data seems of utmost import to me. When you highlight critical reflection, you give a list of questions that are important to consider. When you present data, do you answer your own questions? Or are questions, left open for stakeholders to discuss and answer independently? I see that data can inspire a lot of different questions. Is there a time when an evaluator gives a definitive answer to these questions, or is the ultimate benefit (for stakeholders) in musing and pondering?

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