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OERC Blog

A Weblog from the NN/LM Outreach Evaluation Resource Center

Archive for the ‘News’ Category

The OERC Welcomes Karen Vargas

Friday, February 13th, 2015

Karen Vargas

The OERC welcomes evaluation specialist Karen Vargas, MSLS, who joined the staff on February 2.  Karen will create and present training sessions on various evaluation topics, contribute regularly to the OERC blog and LibGuide, and provide one-to-one evaluation assistance to the National Network of Libraries of Medicine.

Although Karen is new to the OERC staff, she is well known within NN/LM circles, particularly in the South Central Region. She joined the SCR Regional Medical Library in 2003 as the consumer health outreach coordinator, and later became the region’s outreach and evaluation coordinator.  Karen worked on a number of evaluation projects during her time at the SCR. Prior to joining the National Network, she worked at the Houston Public Library.

Karen will be telecommuting from Houston, Texas. We look forward to her contributions to the OERC.  She agreed to participate in an interview with Cindy Olney so we could introduce her to our blog readers.

What made you want to become part of NN/LM?

I liked all the opportunities to provide training offered through NN/LM. You get to see how this job impacts people’s lives.

 What was your favorite evaluation project?

I really enjoyed doing the evaluation of the resource library outreach subcontract program at NN/LM SCR. We involved the resource library directors and outreach contacts in identifying the outcomes that they were interested in. We started with friendly general questions that developed into a process that they were willing to use. We managed to develop specific methods that led to good data. I liked helping people identify what was important to them and figuring out how to track their progress. It makes it more likely they will actually participate in the evaluation. Some of the libraries are still using the forms that we developed.

What do you find challenging about doing that project?

Multi-site evaluation was a challenge.  We were working with libraries in five states.  It was important that everyone follow directions, but we weren’t always successful in getting that point across. Some people using our forms were not the ones we originally trained and the ones we trained didn’t train their co-workers.  If I were to do it over again, we would have written out the directions more explicitly and had special training sessions for everyone who was collecting data for the project. We could have recorded the training, too.

What made you want to work with the OERC?

We’re helping organizations see the value of their programs. At SCR, we helped network members working on projects to focus on what is working and not waste time on parts that aren’t working. We were helping them feel good about what they were doing.  It’s important, for advocacy, to find out what stakeholders want. But it’s also good to figure out what you want. That’s what makes evaluation exciting. People figuring out what makes them satisfied, what they would see as success, and then figuring out how to measure it.

What I’ve like best about working with NN/LM the last 11 years, is that, when we took people through the planning steps of writing an award proposal, they often did the project even if we didn’t fund it. They get so involved in planning that they find some way to do the project. I liked seeing them get excited.

What type of evaluation skills are you most interested in developing?

I would like to learn more about interviewing.

What else would you like readers to know about you?

 I have a little girl named Sophia. She’s two years old and plays harmonica, ukulele, recorder, and can even get a sound on a trombone!

 

52 Weeks of Better Evaluation

Friday, January 30th, 2015

BetterEvaluation.org is an international collaboration that encourages sharing of evaluation methods, approaches and processes for improvement. BetterEvaluation offers yearly blog themes for their staff and guest writers to focus on, and have wrapped up the highlights of their ’52 Weeks of BetterEvaluation’ 2014 theme in a post at http://betterevaluation.org/node/4682 For 2015 they are featuring ’12 Months of BetterEvaluation’ with multiple posts during a month, starting with impact evaluation in January.

A ‘top 5′ selection from the ‘52 Weeks of BetterEvaluation‘ post that is likely to be of interest to National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NN/LM) members includes

  1. Top ten developments in qualitative evaluation over the past decade (link to part 1, part 2)
  2. Fitting reporting methods to evaluation findings and audiences (link)
  3. Infographics, including step by step instructions in piktochart (link)
  4. Innovation in evaluation (link)
  5. Presenting data effectively (link)

Focused Outreach Vermont (from NN/LM NER)

Friday, January 16th, 2015

If you are planning or currently conducting an outreach project, you might want to take a look at the Focused Outreach Vermont article in the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, New England Region (NN/LM NER) newsletter (posted January 13, 2015). NN/LM NER’s Focused Outreach Project uses carefully planned outreach activities and strong community-based collaboration to connect underserved communities with NLM resources and services. The Ner’eastah article, which is an abstract of a full report, highlights outreach results through a succinct description of evaluation findings.

I particularly applaud NN/LM NER’s reporting method. They provide a quick overview, featuring the results of their efforts, with easy access to full details for those who want it. The full report describes the project’s community assessment process and findings. You also get a more thorough description of documented outcomes, laid out in a highly readable format. A nice added feature is the infographic in the beginning of the report.

This is a great example of how to use evaluation to publicize and advocate for successful programs!

nnlm ner

We would like to report more projects that demonstrate effective use of evaluation methods. If you have an example to share, send it to Cindy Olney at olneyc@uw.edu.

Freebie Friday: Mobile Data Solutions Course

Friday, January 9th, 2015

Mobile Course Screenshot

Are you curious about the use of smart phones, tablets, or other mobile data resources to collect data for your assessment project, but are seeking more information on how to determine if this is the right approach for your project or program and how to process the data you collect using this method?

Check out http://techchange.org/media/mobile-data-solutions/, which was created as part of the Mobile Solutions Technical Assistance and Research (mSTAR) project, with expertise provided by U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Digital Development Lab and designed by TechChange.

The primary goal of this freely available and accessible online course (free registration is required to access it) is to learn more about mobile tools, processes, and strategies for data collection in order to use mobile devices (referred to as mobile data solutions) to their full potential in doing so. The course will take about 2 hours to complete and can be done at your own pace over time. Your progress in the course is saved so you’ll be taken to the point where you stopped to continue learning the next time you access it.

The learning objectives of the course are

  • Describe examples of mobile data solutions from collection through visualization
  • Articulate the benefit of using these solutions
  • Analyze the challenges and limitations associated with mobile data solutions
  • Assess whether or not particular mobile data solutions are appropriate for a project, program or problem
  • Outline how to design a project or activity to include mobile data solutions
  • Explain the steps involved in implementing mobile data solutions
  • Summarize how to analyze, visualize, and share mobile data

 

Evaluation “Coffee Breaks” from the CDC

Friday, January 2nd, 2015

Want to build your repertoire of evaluation skills?  Check out this library of evaluation-related podcasts and webinars from the CDC’s Division of Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention.  These are archived documents from 20-minute presentations about evaluation. The usual basic topics are represented, such as “Making Logic Models Work for You”  and “How Do I Develop a Survey?” But a number of the presentations cover topics that are not standard fare. Here are just a few titles that caught my eye:

Most presentations consist of PDFs of PowerPoint slides and talking points, but there are a few podcasts as well.  All presentations seem to be bird’s-eye overviews, but the final slides offer transcripts of Q&A discussion and a list of resources for more in-depth exploration of the topic.  It’s a great way to check out a new evaluation interest!

coffee

Practical and Ethical Guidelines for Conducting Photovoice Studies

Friday, December 12th, 2014

If you think you might want to do a photovoice evaluation study, then you definitely should consult Practical Guidance and Ethical Considerations for Studies Using Photo-Elicitation Interviews by Bugos et al.  The authors reviewed articles describing research projects that employed photovoice and photo-elicitation.  Then, they skillfully synthesized the information into practical and ethical guidelines for doing this type of work.

Photo-elicitation refers specifically to the interviewing methods used to get participants to talk about their photographs and videos. The key contribution of this article is its focus on how to interviewing. Effective interviewing technique is essential because the photographs are meaningless unless you understand the participants’ stories behind them. The practical guidelines help you elicit usable, trustworthy story data after the photographs have been taken.

While interviewing is the main focus of the article, you will find some advice on the photo collection phase as well. This article includes guidance on how to train your participants to protect their own safety and the dignity of their subjects when taking photographs. All of the research projects reviewed for this article received institutional review board approval. If you follow their guidelines, you can have confidence that you are protecting the safety, privacy and confidentiality of all involved.

Here is the full citation for this very pragmatic article:

Bugos E, Frasso R, FitzGerald E, True G, Adachi-Mejia AM, Cannuscio C. Practical Guidance and Ethical Considerations for Studies Using Photo- Elicitation Interviews. Prev Chronic Dis 2014;11:140216. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5888/pcd11.140216

 

Tablet PC

Freebie Friday: Rural Health Needs Assessment and Program Evaluation

Friday, December 5th, 2014

Rural and medically underserved areas often have challenges including both increased health disparities and population health issues combined with limited resources and healthcare providers to help meet these challenges. The use of appropriate program evaluation measures can help to assess what actually works for rural health settings since many evidence-based strategies are based on urban and non-rural populations.

The Rural Assistance Center (raconline.org) has recently issued a freely available online guide at  http://www.raconline.org/topics/rural-health-research-assessment-evaluation The guide is intended to help an organization

  • Identifies the similarities and differences among rural health research, assessment, and evaluation
  • Discusses common methods, such as surveys and focus groups
  • Provides contacts within the field of rural health research
  • Addresses the importance of community-based participatory research to rural communities
  • Looks at the community health needs assessment (CHNA) requirements for non-profit hospitals and public health
  • Examines the importance of building the evidence-base so interventions conducted in rural areas have the maximum possible impact

Thanks to National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NN/LM) Network member (what does that mean?) Gail Kouame from HEALWA for sharing this great resource with us at the Outreach Evaluation Resource Center (OERC)! Do you have an evaluation-related resource to share? We would be happy to consider featuring it in our blog or possible inclusion in our Tools and Resources guide at guides.nnlm.gov/oerc/tools.

Data Viz: free training and other fun stuff

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

Coming soon to a computer near you!  Chris Lysy of FreshSpectrum  is offering a free seven-part data visualization workshop.  Chris has provided data viz training for the American Evaluation Association. (His followers also love his cartoon-illustrated evaluation blog. ) He calls himself the Rachel Ray of data visualization, which makes his course description a nice feature for the OERC’s Thanksgiving blog post.

The workshop date is still TBA, but  you can join his mailing list now to get full details when they are released.

Fresh spectrum logo

Also, Thanksgiving activities often include movie-viewing. So here are some fun data visualizations of famous movie quotes by Flowingdata to help you through the last afternoon before  the holiday weekend.

Poster of chart depictions of famous movie quotes

Freebie Friday: Data Visualization Options Flowchart

Friday, November 21st, 2014

What would you like to show? Comparison, composition, relationship, distribution

Looking for an ‘at a glance’ single page to determine which type of data visualization chart is helpful in order to clearly communicate your results?

This PDF flowchart at  http://betterevaluation.org/plan/describe/visualise_data is a very handy reference! The flowchart guides you towards considering the appropriate data visualization chart options after your initial response to the question of “What would you like to show?” answers of comparison, distribution, composition, or relationship. There are brief descriptions of the charts at the Better Evaluation data visualization page that you can click through to get additional information such as a deviation bar graph that includes synonyms, a base definition, examples of how the chart is used, advice about their use, and links to resources for creating them.

Liberate conversations through Liberating Structures

Friday, November 14th, 2014

Nothing beats qualitative (non-numerical) data collection methods for getting a high volume of rich, interesting information from project participants and stakeholders. The downside is that these methods are resource intensive, so you usually are limited to involving a relatively small number of participants in conversation.

But what if you want to collect a lot of qualitative responses from a lot of people?

If you do, check out the Liberating Structures website. It provides step-by-step instructions for activities to engage large groups in conversations for planning and evaluation.  The website offers a menu of 33 activities with extensive planning details, plus ideas for combining activities into an almost unlimited number of group discussion formats.

I participated in a Liberating Structures activity in Denver last month when I attended the Quint*Essential Conference, hosted by five Medical Library Association chapters. Staff from National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NN/LM) regional offices invited all conference attendees to generate and evaluate ideas for future network initiatives. It was a high-energy activity that engaged more than 100 people in providing bold ideas for future activities.

The beauty of Liberating Structures activities is that the guidelines include how to document conversations so meeting facilitators will end their exercises with actual data. In some cases, the data can be quickly analyzed. NN/LM facilitators were able to compile and report results from the Quint discussion in the exhibit hall later that day.

I want to thank Claire Hamasu, the Associate Director of the NN/LM MidContinental Region, for pointing me to the Liberating Structures web site and including me in the Quint Conference activity. I personally look forward to trying more of these activities and hope other readers are inspired to do so as well.

 

Liberating Structures logo

Last updated on Saturday, 23 November, 2013

Funded by the National Library of Medicine under contract # HHS-N-276-2011-00008-C.