AEA365 | A Tip-a-Day by and for Evaluators

TAG | graphic facilitation

Hello! I’m Clara Pelfrey, Translational Research Evaluation TIG past chair and evaluator for the Clinical and Translation Science Collaborative at Case Western Reserve University. I’m joined by graphic recorder Johnine Byrne, owner of See Your Words, and Darcy Freedman, Associate Director of the Prevention Research Center for Healthy Neighborhoods (PRCHN). We’d like to extend our previous AEA365 post on graphic recording and show how it can be used to create a shared vision between researchers doing community engaged research and community members.

Graphic recording (GR) is a visual capturing of people’s ideas and expressions. The GR shown below was created at an annual retreat of the PRCHN’s community advisors. It visually captured the community’s ideas around the major areas of work done by the center, helping to identify priority areas for future work and opportunities for collaboration. The PRCHN used the GR to show what role its partners play, the questions they have, what the bottlenecks are and any risks or unintended consequences to attend to.

graphic recording

(click for larger image)

Hot Tip:

Evaluation uses of graphic recording (GR) in community based research/community engagement:

  • Provide qualitative analysis themes. GR acts as a visual focus group report, providing opportunities to interact with your study findings.
  • GR can show system complexity. A non-profit organization working on youth justice commissioned a systems model GR so that all the service providers for youth experiencing homelessness could: 1) see where they fit into the wider system; 2) identify gaps and redundancies; 3) identify feedback loops; 4) find reinforcements.
  • Focus group participants may be reluctant to speak up in a group. Seeing images on the GR encourages participants to speak.
  • GR allows everyone to share their ideas in real-time. This immediacy creates energy and fosters more discussion.
  • Get right to the heart of the matter. Concepts on the GR become objects and lose their attribution to a person, fostering conversation that is more open and honest. This is especially useful when discussing sensitive issues (e.g. racism).
  • Compare changes over time. In the community setting, GR allows for an evolving group of people to honor the engagement of prior groups and provides a benchmark for the future.
  • Hear all perspectives. The graphic recorder mirrors the ideas in the room capturing the full range of opinions including the divergent or outsider perspectives.
  • GR helps the late arrivals catch up on what transpired at the meeting while helping everyone review.

Lessons Learned:

  • Get a good facilitator! An experienced facilitator manages room dynamics. The graphic recorder is the “silent partner.”
  • Schedule time to review and discuss the GR at the end. This helps uncover possible opportunities by asking: “What haven’t we talked about?”
  • Display last year’s GR for comparison and encourage everyone to compare and ask the question: “Have we made progress?”
  • GR requires a democratic belief in participatory approaches, empowering multiple perspectives and not just the leaders’ ideas.
  • PowerPoint slides and GR do not mix. GR best captures the dialog, not the slide content.

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 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.


Hello! We are Michael Quinn Patton, Founder and CEO of Utilization-Focused Evaluation and Katherine Haugh, Monitoring, Evaluation, Research, and Learning (MERL) Associate at USAID LEARN. As evaluators, we know that learning from evaluation occurs when the process is rooted in partnership and is accommodating to different learning styles. That’s why we collaborated to share key findings from Michael’s recently published book, Facilitating Evaluation  in a creative and engaging way.

  • For the visual learners out there, take a look at the visual below which recaps chapter four of Michael’s book about facilitating evaluation. If you’re curious, check out the full set of visuals from the book.

  • For the auditory learners out there, tune in to this MQP podcast which includes a conversation between Michael and me about Michael’s reflections on the book.
  • For tactile learners, take a look at some of the experiential learning techniques Michael describes in his book (a few of which are mentioned below).

Michael’s book presents five principles of evaluation facilitation:

  • Be guided by the personal factor
  • Engage through options
  • Observe, interpret, adapt
  • Embed evaluative thinking throughout
  • Facilitate at the leading edge

Hot Tip:  Here are a few things you can do to facilitate learning through evaluation in your work:

  • Learn about the people you’ll be facilitating. The personal factor is the single most important determinant of what impact an evaluation will have. Be fascinated by people and their stories; learn about what drives them and what they feel committed to. Let the people you are facilitating experience you as a person, not as someone filling a role.
  • Be more than just an evaluator. At the stage of choosing methods, especially, be more than just an evaluator. Be a technical advisor, a consultant, a teacher, and an advocate for quality.
  • Treat everything that happens during the facilitation as data. Be mindful throughout the entire facilitation. Observe, interpret, adapt. This includes all formal and informal interactions (i.e. during break times). Don’t forget to observe yourself as a facilitator, too!
  • Teach and facilitate inquiry through deep and persistent questioning. Everything you do during the facilitation should model evaluative thinking. Evaluative thinking is both process and outcome. Participants see the value of evaluative thinking by participating in it.
  • Connect the conversation to larger trends, movements, and emerging research. Groups feel inspired when they see their local and national work as part of a global movement. Global challenges, like climate change and multinational capitalism, know no boundaries. That’s why it’s imperative to think globally, act globally, and evaluate globally.

Rad 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. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to . aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.


Hello! I’m Kate Tinworth, Program Co-Chair of the DVRTIG. I am excited to write about one of my favorite parts of my work as an evaluator— drawing.

Last year at AEA I co-presented a session called, “Drawing Them In: Graphic Facilitation & Evaluation to Strategically Visualize Change” with my friend Chris Chopyak (a rock star who literally wrote the book on using visuals to help businesses address challenges and create strategies). We reminded our audience that we all think visually, images are key to memory and learning, and that you—yes, you—can draw. And you should! Visuals can resolve ambiguity, cut across language and cultural divides, help findings become more salient, and kick start action.

Hot Tip: Find a Local Friend.

If you want to explore the potential of teaming with a graphic facilitator, it’s time to make some new friends. Check out the International Forum of Visual Practitioners (IFVP): There’s bound to be someone near you!

Rad Resource: Go to a Class/Workshop.

There are great opportunities to try your hand at graphic facilitation, whether you plan to incorporate it into your evaluation practice or just want to stimulate your visual thinking. Though it can feel intimidating, I highly recommend signing up for a class. Learning graphic facilitation techniques have helped me to sketch out graph and chart ideas, think through report layouts, and get far more creative with methodology and instrumentation.

Cool Trick: Drink.

Some graphic facilitation practitioners, including Chris, do “drink and draws” where you can get some drawing practice over a cocktail. Amazing!

Hot Tip: Draw. All the Time.

To become more comfortable with drawing I draw, all the time. Try covering your dining room/kitchen table with butcher paper and put crayons or colored pencils out. When you sit down for coffee or a meal, draw. Tape paper to the wall and “live capture” TED talks or your favorite podcasts. Carry a notebook and favorite pen everywhere. Commit to drawing for just 2 minutes a day.

Tinworth 1

Cool Trick: Apps.

More of a techie? Draw on your tablet! I like Notability and iMotion.

Rad Resource: Get Inspired.

The DVRTIG is a great place to find inspiration and make connect with colleagues who care about visual thinking. Check out the AEA365 blog posts, the TIG website, and resources on p2i.

Hot Tip: Go Visual.

Whenever you can, try to “go visual” in your projects. Try a visual logic model. Engage stakeholders in drawing. I often get my stakeholders to draw during a training or as I present preliminary data. Lately I have also been experimenting with data placemats, which I learned about through AEA (thanks @VeenaPankaj).

Tinworth 2

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 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

My name is Susan Kistler. I am AEA’s Executive Director, and this week’s post is coming from on the ground at our annual conference in San Antonio. What a week it has been with over 600 sessions, 1200 presenters, nights out on the Riverwalk, morning planning meetings, and buzz throughout the hallways.

This year, we’re starting a scribing program where we have attendees at over 40 sessions taking notes and compiling their lessons learned to share with aea365 readers. You’ll see their contributions throughout the coming year but I thought that I would start things off.

I attended session 284 I See What You Mean: Applications of Visual Methods in Evaluation. The interactive session focused on visual facilitation and recording. Back on February 27, I wrote about Network Weaving (see post), and bringing together Jara Dean-Coffey and Terry Uyecki based on their common interest in visual facilitation methods – Terry has used graphic facilitation as part of her evaluation work and Jara had written about employing graphic recorders on aea365 earlier in the month (see post).

Lessons Learned: We learned both from Terry and Jara as well as from one another in the audience. Here are a few of the key take-aways:

  • There is a difference between graphic facilitation and graphic recording: Although there are variations, graphic recording is a bit like taking minutes, only in graphic form; while graphic facilitation involves the recorder interacting with the audience/stakeholders (recorders may have back to audience while facilitators are more likely to face the audience).
  • Graphic facilitation/recording does not work with every group or organization: Jara stressed that there had to be a match and the audience raised questions related to context, preferred learning styles, and organizational culture to find a best match.
  • Graphic facilitation/recording works in multiple contexts: There was particular discussion of its usability when visualizing complex systems, working with community groups and youth, and creating a shared vision. Graphic recording was noted as a good tool in logic model development and to come to common understanding in order to move forward with evaluation planning and organization development.
  • Graphic facilitation/recording is not all about graphics: Terry stressed that you need not be an artist to be a graphic recorder – the goal is to use symbols and pictures that are readily understandable but are not necessarily perfectly rendered. Graphic recordings often involve a lot of words and showing linkages between and among words and concepts.

Rad Resources: Jara and Terry have been kind enough to share:

Stay tuned for more scribing from Evaluation 2010!

· · · ·


To top