Remember This

Data visualization (or information visualization or infographics) isn’t just a sweet way to display your evaluation findings. It is a critical pathway to helping clients actually remember what you said. Blame the brain. Visual processing of information is the dominant method among all the senses – it is called the…

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Wine Evaluation. Yep, Wine Evaluation.

I had the awesome opportunity to host our local wine guru – Terry Stingley – at The Evaluation Center this week. He spoke to us about how to evaluate wine. We, of course, were thinking strictly about how to apply these notions to program evaluation. I learned so much about…

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Eval + Comm

It had perhaps less than six words per slide. It had high quality graphics. It had a systematic and consistent placement of elements. But something about the presentation today still bugged the kernel of a graphic designer inside me. The presenter had clearly read some basic literature on slideshow presentations…

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Data Visualization and Reporting TIG

Evaluation use is a hot topic, but no one is looking at the role of graphic design. Guidance on graphic design of evaluation reports in the literature of our field is sparse. Typically, discussion of use of evaluation findings (or lack thereof) focuses on types of use (i.e., conceptual, process,…

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Product Evaluation of Evaluation Reports

Okay, people, I just endured another heartwrenching conversation about the state of slideshows in evaluation. We all get it, right? Death by Powerpoint is a common affliction. Point well taken. But if it is such common knowledge that our slideshows and our reports are an utter bore to endure, why…

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Valuing Values with Values and Values

or How Semantics Constrained a Field

Our discipline is stricken with too many values. I’m speaking semantically, of course. We use the word “values” to mean many things, including personal values, cultural and organizational values, criteria (or dimensions of merit), general and specific values (in terms of standards), monetary value (or worth), and in the action form as valuing (or judging). A conflation of terms hinders the discipline’s ability to be accessible others, particularly our clients and stakeholders, and unnecessarily confuses beginning evaluators, and perhaps even those who are more experienced.

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When the Evaluator is Evaluated

Last year at about this time I was knee deep in survey redesign. I had joined this awesome project that has been conducting an annual survey for over 10 years. The surveyed parties are grantees in one of NSF’s program streams. Nice as they are, they’d been quite vocal about how the survey doesn’t meet their own evaluation needs, is difficult to complete, is too long, etc. I sort of empathized… until I had to complete the survey myself.

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WTF HCZ?

We are big fans of the Harlem Children’s Zone around these parts. Like many others, I’m sure part of it is romantic – we aspire to see a social program work as well as HCZ appears because we love Harlem and we love magic bullets. If it works there, it…

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Why Proposals Fail

Summer, as you  know, is proposal season. I’ve been up to my neck (literally – these proposals are huge) in stacks of papers, reviewing ideas seeking support from various federal agencies. Regardless of the agency, some proposals seem to fare less well for common reasons. Here’s my breakdown (and strictly…

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Oil In My Backyard

Right now, the midwest’s largest oil spill in history is flowing through my backyard. The pipeline, taking oil from Indiana to Canada, burst sometime Sunday or Monday this past week (3-4 days ago), sending 840,000 barrels of oil into a creek, that flows to the Kalamazoo River, that flows to…

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