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NN/LM Outreach Evaluation Resource Center

Archive for the ‘Practical Evaluation’ Category

Low Cost Mapping Tools on NLM’s Community Health Maps Blog

Friday, May 8th, 2015

Map of Childhood Lead Poisoining Risk in Philadelphia, PA from CDC Map Gallery

Have you ever wanted to be able to use mapping for your outreach needs, but thought that making maps would be too expensive, time-consuming, or just too difficult?   The National Library of Medicine has a blog called Community Health Maps: Information on Low Cost Mapping Tools for Community-based Organizations, with the goal of facilitating the use of geographic information system (GIS) mapping by providing information about low cost mapping tools, software reviews, best practices, and the experiences of those who have successfully implemented a mapping workflow as part of their work.  The blog is moderated by Kurt Menke, a certified GIS professional.

Here are some examples of the kinds of things you can find on the Community Health Maps blog:

  • A short guide for using iForm for field data collection. iForm is an app that can be used on iPads, iPhones and Android devices, and has a free version.  Using this app, you could go to different locations, gather data (for example, demographic information about attendance at your program), and view it in tabular or map format.
  • A description of a project using youth in the Philippines to collect data on the needs of their communities.  Technology + Youth = Change showed how a dozen donated phones helped 30 young adults survey and map information on access to water, electricity, jobs, and more.
  • A review of a pilot project done by the Seattle Indian Health Board’s Urban Indian Health Institute on noise pollution and health in the urban environment. One of the goals of the pilot project was to determine whether this kind of data collection and analysis would be feasible with other urban Indian health organizations, so they selected participants who had limited experience with data collection and GIS. The feedback suggested that the GIS software tools were very user-friendly and effective.

Photo credit: Childhood Lead Poisoning Risk Analysis, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, from the CDC Map Gallery

Infographics Basics: A Picture is Worth 1000 Data Points

Friday, April 24th, 2015

Open Access Week at University of Cape Town infographicYou’ve been collecting great data for your library, and now you have to figure out how to use it to convince someone of something, for example how great your library is. Part of the trick is turning that data into a presentation that your stakeholders understand – especially if you are not there to explain it.  Infographics are images that make data easy to understand in a way that gets your message across.

It turns out it doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive to create your own infographics.  Last week I went to a hands-on workshop at the Texas Library Association called “Infographics: One Picture is  Worth 1,000 Data Points,” taught by Leslie Barrett, Education Specialist from the Education Service Center Region 13 in Austin, TX. Using this website as her interactive “handout”, Leslie walked us through the process of creating an infographic (and as a byproduct of this great class, she also demonstrated a number of free instructional resources, such as Weebly, Padlet, and Thinglink).

Starting at the top of the page, click on anything with a hyperlink.  You will find a video as well as other “infographics of infographics”  which demonstrate how and why infographics can be used.  There are also a variety of examples to evaluate as part of the learning process.

Finally, there is information on the design process and resources that make infographics fairly easy to create.  These resources, such as Piktochart and Easelly, have free subscriptions for simple graphics and experimenting.

Leslie Barrett allowed us to share this website with you, so feel free to get started making your own infographics!

Image credit: Open Access Week at University of Cape Town by Shihaam Donnelly / CC BY SA 3.0

An Easier Way to Plan: Tearless Logic Models

Friday, April 10th, 2015

Sample Logic Model

Are you apprehensive when someone says it’s time to do “outcome-based planning using a logic model?” The Wichita State University Community Psychology Practice and Research Collaborative, and the Community Psychology Doctoral Program in Wichita, KS, have come up with an easy way to do logic models. This is described in an article, “Tearless Logic Model,” in the Global Journal of Community Psychology Practice.

Their goal was to create a facilitated, non-intimidating logic model process that would be more likely to be used in planning.  This approach is designed to give community-based groups, faith-based organizations, smaller nonprofits and people with little experience in strategic planning greater impact when planning community projects.

Tearless Logic Model planning requires only flip charts, magic markers, blue painters’ tape and a safe space to work with a group.  Jargon is eliminated, and is replaced with simple terms that anyone can understand.  For example, instead of asking “what are the anticipated impacts,” a facilitator would ask, “if you really got it right, what would it look like in 10 or 20 years?”

The step by step process that anyone can use is found in their article as well as links to a Prezi visual guide and the full PDF that includes a helpful template.

Ashlee D. Lien, Justin P. Greenleaf, Michael K. Lemke, Sharon M. Hakim, Nathan P. Swink, Rosemary Wright, Greg Meissen. Tearless Logic Model. Global Journal of Community Psychology Practice [Internet].  2011 Dec [cited 2015 Apr 10];2(2). Available from


Updated Community Health Status Indicators (CHSI)

Friday, March 27th, 2015

Peer county mapsThe OERC is excited to get the word out about the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s newly updated and redesigned Community Health Status Indicators (CHSI).  The new CHSI 2015 represents the collaboration of public health partners in the public, non-profit and research communities, including the National Library of Medicine.

The OERC recommends the CHSI as a possible resource in the data gathering portion of planning outreach projects or needs assessments. CHSI 2015 is an interactive online tool that produces health profiles for all 3,143 counties in the United States. Each profile includes key indicators of health outcomes that describe the population health status of a county. What makes CHSI 2015 an important tool is that it includes comparisons to “peer counties” – groups of counties that are similar to each other based on 19 variables, including population size, percent high school graduates and household income.

CHSI Summary Comparison ReportFor each county, CHSI 2015 provides a Summary Comparison Report.  Using Karen Vargas’ childhood home of Union County, PA as an example, this report (right) shows that in the case of the overall cancer death rate, Union County does better than most of its peer counties.  But in the case of stroke death rate, they do worse.

Distribution Display – bar chartsBy selecting a specific indicator, such as coronary heart disease death rate, the interactive CHSI 2015 will produce a bar chart showing Union County in comparison to its peer counties, as well as the US median and the Healthy People 2020 target (left).

More detailed, downloadable data for each peer county can also be found (below), as well as a web page detailing the sources of the data for each indicator. CHSI 2015 provides a helpful How to use CHSI web page that explains each feature and provides helpful hints.

Distribution data in a downloadable format

CHSI 2015 is designed to complement other available sources of community health indicators including the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s County Health Rankings and Roadmaps.

What Shapes Health? A Story about Data Visualization

Friday, March 13th, 2015

Medicaid birth map 2006-08

It was an amazing a-ha moment. We kind of blinked at each other, and then simultaneously said ‘We got to do something.’ – Dr. Nancy Hardt, University of Florida

This week on National Public Radio’s (NPR) All Things Considered was a story of what happened when Dr. Nancy Hardt, an OB-GYN, used data from Medicaid birth records to see where children were born into poverty in Gainesville, FL to try and identify ways to intervene and prevent poor childhood health outcomes. She was surprised to see a 1 square mile high-density ‘hot spot’ of births in dark blue appear in her map above. Dr. Hardt was encouraged to share her map with Sheriff Sadie Darnell, who pulled out a map of her own of Gainesville.

Sheriff Darnell’s map showed an exact overlay with the ‘hot spot’ on Dr. Hardt’s map of the highest crime rates in the city. By visiting the area they identified many things in the community that were barriers to good health including hunger, substandard housing, and a lack of medical care facilities – the closest location for uninsured patients was a 2 hour bus ride each way to the county health department. You’ll want to check out the rest of A Sheriff and A Doctor Team Up to Map Childhood Trauma to learn more about a mobile health clinic, what data from additional maps showed, and other steps they have taken since to help improve health outcomes for the community.

This story is the latest from the NPR series What Shapes Health, which was inspired in response to a recent Robert Wood Johnson Foundation poll about what beliefs and concerns Americans have regarding health. You can read an overview and download the full report of their results at

OERC’s Tools and Resources for Evaluation Guide

Friday, March 6th, 2015

Data Dashboard Example

Have you ever found yourself trying to do an evaluation activity, but needing that one helpful tool? Or perhaps you need a step-by-step guide on how to do a community assessment, or are looking for ways to build evaluation into a project that you are planning?

The OERC has an online guide called Tools and Resources for Evaluation that you and your library can use to evaluate your programs. Here are some of the types of tools and resources described in the Guide.

Community Oriented Outreach

  • Tips on successful collaborations and tools for improving collaboration with community networks
  • Toolkits for practical participatory evaluation and processes for conducting outcome-based evaluations

Evaluation Planning

  • Step-by-step guides on incorporating evaluation planning into your outreach projects
  • Instructions on using logic models for program planning

Data Collection and Analysis

  • Tips for questionnaire development
  • Resources for statistical methods of data analysis
  • Guides for analyzing qualitative and quantitative data

Reporting and Visualizing

  • Help with creating popular data dashboards
  • Descriptions of data visualization methods
  • Tools and TEDtalks about how you will present your data

Another Coffee Break: Word and Excel Templates

Friday, February 6th, 2015

AEA Coffee

Here at the Outreach Evaluation Resource Center (OERC) we began 2015 blogging about the CDC Coffee Breaks. For February we’re offering a refill by featuring some notes from a recent American Evaluation Association (AEA) coffee break webcast. Unlike the CDC, the 20 minute AEA coffee break webcasts are not freely available to the public but are an included benefit of AEA membership. The webcast briefly covered best practices in data visualization using two commonly available resources (Microsoft Word and Excel) and how to automate use of them by creating templates for report format consistency and easier workflow.

Some great resources to learn more how to do this and bookmark for future reference include

Specific for Word

Specific for Excel


52 Weeks of Better Evaluation

Friday, January 30th, 2015 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 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)

Freebie Friday: Measuring Success Toolkit

Friday, January 23rd, 2015

Measurement and Evaluation Staircase

Monitoring and evaluation (M&E) is a form of assessment used to help improve the performance and achievement of program results and often used by both non-government organizations (NGOs) and government agencies. The staircase diagram above describes six questions that M&E can help answer through program planning, monitoring, and evaluation. More information clarifying the difference between monitoring and evaluation as well as guidance for each of the six questions is available at this link.

While not specific to health information outreach programs, the Measuring Success Toolkit at from the Urban Reproductive Health Initiative is about health program planning, monitoring and evaluation. The toolkit provides helpful resources from the initiative’s multi-country perspective of working with the urban poor and the significant health disparities they face that may be helpful to consult with your health information outreach partners to underserved communities.  It includes subject-specific M&E resources such as maternal & child health and HIV/AIDs, and the resources within the toolkit are selected by M&E experts and reviewed quarterly following established criteria to identify important resources from diverse perspectives that include accurate, up to date information.

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!


Last updated on Saturday, 23 November, 2013

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