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The blog of the National Network of Libraries of Medicine Evaluation Office

Archive for the ‘Storytelling’ Category

My Favorite Things 2016 (Spoiler Alert: Includes Cats)

Wednesday, December 21st, 2016

Little figurine of Santa standing in snow, holding gifts

During gift-giving season every year, Oprah publishes a list of her favorite things. Well, move over, Oprah, because I also have a list. This is my bag of holiday gifts for our NEO Shop Talk readers.

Art Exhibits

There are two websites with galleries of data visualizations that are really fun to visit. The first,  Information is Beautiful , has wonderful examples of data visualizations, many of which are interactive. My favorites from this site are Who Old Are You?   (put in your birth date to start it) and Common MythConceptions. The other is Tableau Public, Tableau Software Company’s “public commons” for their users to share their work.  My picks are the Endangered Species Safari  and the data visualization of the Simpsons Vizapedia.  And, in case  you’re wondering what happened to your favorite Crayola crayon colors, you can find out here.

Movies

Nancy Duarte’s The Secret Structure of Great Talks is my favorite TEDtalk. Duarte describes the simple messaging structure underlying inspirational speeches. Once you grasp this structure, you will know how to present evaluations findings to advocate for stakeholder support. I love the information in this talk, but that’s not why I listen to it over and over again.  It’s because Duarte says “you have the power to change the world” and, by the end of the talk, I believe her.

Dot plot for a fictional workshop data, titled Participant Self Assessment of their Holiday Skills before and after our holiday survival workshop. Pre/post self-report ratings for four items: Baking without a sugar overdose (pre=3; post-5); Making small talk at the office party (pre=1; post=3); Getting gifts through airport security (pre=2; post-5); Managing road rage in mall parking lots (pre=2; post-4)

I also am a fan of two videos from the Denver Museum of Natural History, which demonstrate how museum user metrics can be surprisingly entertaining. What Do Jelly Beans Have To Do With The Museum? shows demographics with colorful candy and Audience Insights On Parking at the Museum  talks amusingly about a common challenge of urban life.

Crafts

If you want to try your hand at creating snappier charts and graphs, you need to spend some time at Stephanie Evergreen’s blog. For example, she gives you step-by-step instructions on making lollipop charts, dot plots , and overlapping bar charts. Stephanie works exclusively in Excel, so there’s no need to purchase or learn new software. You also might want to learn a few new Excel graphing tricks at Ann Emery’s blog.  For instance, she describes how to label the lines in your graphs or adjust bar chart spacing.

Site Seeing

How about a virtual tour to the UK? I still marvel at the innovative Visualizing Mill Road  project. Researchers collected community data, then shared their findings in street art. This is the only project I know of featuring charts in sidewalk chalk. The web site talks about community members’ reactions to the project, which is also pretty fascinating.

Humor

I left the best for last. This is a gift for our most sophisticated readers, recommended by none other than Paul Gargani, president of the American Evaluation Association. It is a web site for the true connoisseurs of online evaluation resources.  I present to you the Twitter feed for  Eval Cat.  Even the  NEO Shop Talk cats begrudgingly admire it, although no one has invited them to post.

 

Pictures of the four NEO Eval Cats

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s wishing you an enjoyable holiday.

A Chart Chooser for Qualitative Data!

Friday, November 18th, 2016

Core Values Word Cloud Concept

When people talk about data visualization, they are usually talking about quantitative data. In a previous post, we explained that data visualizations help people perform three primary functions: exploring, making sense of, and communicating data.  How can we report qualitative data in a way that performs those same functions?

We just got some exciting news from the EvergreenData blog that they have developed a Qualitative Chart Chooser. Seriously–it’s a work of art. Actually two works of art because they have two different chart chooser drafts to choose from.

The way it works is this: you think about the story you want to tell with your data, maybe about how something improved over time because of your awesome project. Then using the chart chooser, you look at the “show change over time” category, and then you could select a timeline, before-and-after “change photos,” or a histomap (what’s a histomap?  Take a look at this one).

This chart chooser is a very cool tool. But I wouldn’t wait until it was time to report findings to use it. One thing that we at the NEO suggest is that when you are first planning your project, you should think about the story or stories you want to tell at the end of your project. Maybe when you’re thinking about the story you want to tell, you could look at all these different qualitative charts in the chart chooser.  Which ones would you like to use? Do you want to tell the story of how your program aligns with the goals of your institution (you could try indicator dots)? Or maybe you want to show how the different parts of your project work together as a whole (a dendrogram might work). By looking at these options before you design your evaluation plan, you can be sure that you are gathering the right data from the beginning. Backing up even further in your planning process, if you are having trouble trying to decide what story or stories you want to tell, this Qualitative Chart Chooser can give you ways to think about that.

Here is some more information on qualitative data visualization and storytelling from NEO Shop Talk:

Qualitative Data Visualization, September 26, 2014

More Qualitative Data Visualization Ideas, December 18, 2014

Telling Good Stories About Good Programs, June 29, 2015

DIY Tool for Program Success Stories, July 2, 2015

 

DYI: Two Great Photovoice Guides

Friday, October 2nd, 2015

Hand holding tablet, with photo of field of green grass on background with sunrise

Photovoice is an evaluation method for the times.  This method engages program stakeholders (learners; service recipients; community members) in taking photographs and using them as springboards to express their experiences and points of view.  With the prevalence of cameras in mobile devices, along with social media forums, most of us already are engaging in the foundational practices underlying photovoice: taking photos, posting them, and sharing our experiences.  Add in some facilitators who provide systematic method design, project management and ethical oversight; and you have the potential to gather program insights that would go untouched through traditional methods.

Today’s post introduces you to two practical resources written by action researchers describing their lessons learned about conducting photovoice projects. The documents also show you or link you to photos and commentary from contributing participants.

 

From the Prairie Women’s Health Centre of Excellence

One comprehensive guide comes from the Prairie Women’s Health Centre of Excellence  (PWHCE), located in Canada.  The center engages in collaborative, community-based research on social and other determinants of the health of women and girls. The center’s mission is to provide expert advice on social policies related to women’s health. The authors (Beverly Palibroda, Brigette Krieg, Lisa Murdock and Joanne Havelock) published A Practical Guide To Photovoice: Sharing Pictures, Telling Stories and Changing Communities, a nuts-and-bolts photovoice manual. It provides detailed advice, with periodic sidebars summarizing process. An appendix includes a helpful checklist. You will find sample photovoice entries throughout the document.

The manual was written in 2009.  Since that time, the PWHCE has introduced digital story-telling into its portfolio of participatory methods.  Check out the stories here.

From Brainline.org

Another guide was produced based on a photovoice project for Brainline.org, an educational website providing authoritative information about brain injury symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment. The project featured the stories of eight members with traumatic brain injury.  The gallery of essays is available here.   Facilitators Laura Lorenz and Barbara Webster developed a succinct facilitator guide based on this project.

If you want to learn how to do a photovoice project, these documents are a great place to start. You also can find other resources in OERC’s blog entries posted in 2012 and  2014.

Elevator Conversations Pt. 2: The OERC Pitch

Friday, September 18th, 2015

Theory and practice words written on the chalkboard Last week, I reviewed Tim David’s article “Your Elevator Pitch Needs an Elevator Pitch.” This week, Karen Vargas (my co-blogger) and I decided to challenge ourselves and write an elevator pitch for the Outreach Evaluation Resource Center (aka OERC). So this week’s post is our example of how to implement David’s approach.

The Set Up

For those of you who don’t already know about us, the OERC offers evaluation training and consultation to members of the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NN/LM). Libraries and organizations from across the US join the NN/LM to help promote health information access and use. They specifically promote resources of the National Library of Medicine, which funds the program. The OERC’s charge includes helping NN/LM members use evaluation to identify their best outreach strategies and share them with colleagues, as well as to promote the results of their work.

The NN/LM is managed by the National Network Office at the National Library of Medicine.  The position of NNO Head is currently vacant.  In anticipation of the day when our new leader is hired, we decided to think about how to pitch the OERC.

The Pitch

Let’s imagine that I’m on the elevator with the new head of NNO.  This is purely hypothetical, of course. Reality may (probably will) vary.  When we incorporated one of David’s elements, we tagged it in parentheses.

OERC: “You know how the RMLs and organizations in the NN/LM do great and noble work funded by NLM, but we aren’t always sure how to get the message across about what we do?” (problem question)

NNO Head: “Well, yes.”

OERC: Everyone in the network is hungry to know what strategies work well and which ones are a waste of time. We want to be able to share lessons learned about how to do outreach. Ideally, we want to provide solid evidence that allows us to talk credibly about the results of our good work.” (noddable)

NNO Head: “I can agree that’s important.”

OERC:Well, the OERC helps NN/LM members use evaluation to learn what strategies work well. We also teach them how to take advantage of their evaluation data to get the message out about positive results and lessons learned.” (curiosity statement)

NNO Head: Really?  How do you do that?

OERC: “We combine training with one-to-one coaching. For example, an NN/LM outreach coordinator, Michelle Eberle, led one of the New England Region’s Communities of Interests, which is one of NER’s innovative approaches to promoting use of NLM consumer health resources.  Michelle has taken a lot of our training sessions over the years, so she developed an evaluation questionnaire for the COI, then asked me to review it. In the end, she got some good evidence of success and was able to publish an article about her project in MLA News. So that project was shared with a lot of health sciences librarians both in and outside of her region. That’s just one example.  In the past year alone, two of us taught evaluation webinars to about 580 participants and provided consultations on 31 projects.” (example)

The Close

Note: Tim David is a corporate communication consultant, so his elevator pitch was designed to produce a meeting with a potential client.  Our goal is similar.  We would hope for a meeting with the new Head of NNO to present more details about how we support the NN/LM. It will allow him or her to better understand our role (and our value) to the network. If our elevator pitch worked, we think the conversation would end something like this:

NNO Head: “It sounds as though you have other good stories to share.”

OERC:When you have some time, we would love to schedule a meeting to share more about some of our other evaluation projects with the NN/LM libraries and organizations. We would be happy to put together a presentation for you.”

Sources:

David T. Your elevator pitch needs an elevator pitch. Harvard Business Review. 30 Dec 2014.  Retrieved 13 Sept 2015. https://hbr.org/2014/12/your-elevator-pitch-needs-an-elevator-pitch

Eberle, Michelle L.; Malachowski, Margot; Richetelle, Alberta; Lahoz, Monina; McIntosh, Linda; Moore, Bradley; Searl, Jen; and Kronick, Judy, “Clear: Conversations: A Collaborative Regional Project to Help Patients Improve their Health Visits” (2014). National Network of Libraries of Medicine New England Region (NN/LM NER) Repository. Paper 25.
http://escholarship.umassmed.edu/ner/25. (Michelle’s article about this project was published in the MLA News, August 2014, titled: Clear: Conversations: A Project to Help Patients Improve Their Health Visits.)

 

Give Your Elevator Pitch a Lift

Friday, September 11th, 2015

It is the elevator button of up sign.

Forget about elevator speeches.  Think elevator conversations.

Elevator pitches are one of a number of strategies you can use to stealthily promote your organization’s successful programs and services. We cover elevator pitches in an OERC workshop about how to use evaluation to better advocate for your organization. I always thought of elevator pitches as little promotional speeches of elevator-ride length (i.e. 20-seconds) that you can slip into small talk when you run in to “someone influential.”  You add nuggets of evaluation findings to these mini-speeches to demonstrate program value.

I now see that I was missing a key element in the elevator pitch exchange: the other person.

I can thank this insight to Tim David and his article Your Elevator Pitch Needs an Elevator Pitch, which appeared in the Harvard Business Review (10 Dec 2014).  David emphasizes the importance of engaging your fellow elevator traveler, rather than talking “at” him or her.

As such, you have to prepare a conversation, not a speech.

What I appreciate in particular is how he seamlessly slips in evidence to support his low-key pitch. See, for instance, how he surreptitiously inserts a statistic that he must have obtained from a follow-up evaluation with one of his client organizations.  Specifically, the organization reported that productivity and morale increased 38% after his training. David seamlessly folds that little fact into the conversation and it underscores the value his service provided to the organization.

That’s how to tie evaluation to advocacy, folks!

Here are the other tips I took away from the article:

  • Answer polite but perfunctory questions (such as “what does your office do?”) with a surprising answer. This is harder than it looks, so I’m going to have to practice this tip. (“Hi Mom, did you know….?”)
  • Use questions to draw your elevator companion into the conversation. David suggests that you talk no more than 20% of the time. Yield the remainder of the time to the other traveler, but use questions to keep the conversation rolling.
  • Don’t worry too much about that 20-second time frame traditionally recommended for elevator pitches. If you successfully engage your fellow rider, he or she will hold the elevator door open to continue the chat.

We have posted a number of articles about weaving evaluation results into stories (see June 29, July 2, and August 21 of this year. The elevator pitch format is a good addition to your story-telling tool kit. But it is the extra-credit challenge. It will take some practice to be able to present an elevator pitch casually and conversationally. If you’re up for that challenge, then check out Tim David’s article for some excellent guidelines.

 

Improving Your Data Storytelling in 30 Days

Friday, August 21st, 2015

Here are some more great techniques to help with telling a story to report your evaluation data so it will get the attention it deserves.

Friends at campfire telling storiesJuice Analytics has this truly wonderful collection of resources in a guide called “30 Days to Data Storytelling.” With assignments of less than 30 minutes a day, this guide links to data visualization and storytelling resources from sources as varied as Pixar, Harvard Business Review, Ira Glass, the New York Times, and Bono (yes, that Bono).

The document is a checklist of daily activities lasting no longer than 30 minutes per day. Each activity is either an article to read, a video to watch, or a small project to do.

The resources answer valuable questions like:

  • What do you do when you’re stuck?
  • How do I decide between visual narrative techniques?
  • Where can I find some examples of using data visualization to tell a story?

DIY Tool for Program Success Stories (Program Success Stories Part 2)

Thursday, July 2nd, 2015

Last week, I wrote about program success stories. As a follow-up, I want to introduce you to a story builder tool available at the CDC Injury Prevention and Control web site. The story builder takes you through three steps to produce an attractive, well-written program success story. Each step offers downloadable Microsoft Word documents to walk you through the process.

Step 1: The worksheets are designed to gather and organize project information for your story. I think it would be interesting to use this step as a participatory activity. You could pull together your project team or a group of stakeholders to talk through questions in this worksheet. The discussion would help group members articulate the program’s value from their perspective.

Step 2: This step provides a story builder template to write your story, section by section. Each section has a field to develop a paragraph of your story, with some tips for writing in a compelling, user-friendly way. Each completed field prepares you for the final step.

Step 3: Here, you can download a layout template, where you transfer the paragraphs from your story builder template into the layout. Because this is a Word document, you can change background design, font, or even the size and placement of pictures and call-out quote boxes.

If you are thinking of trying your hand at program success stories, this story building web page provides some useful DYI tools to help you get started.

"What is Your Story" typed on paper in an old typewriter

Telling Good Stories about Good Programs

Monday, June 29th, 2015

Sometimes our program successes are a well-kept secret, hidden deep in our final reports under pages of statistics, tables, and descriptive details. There is a way to shine a stronger light on positive program impacts: program success stories. These are short (1-2 page) narratives that are designed to educate policy makers, attract partners, and share effective practices among colleagues.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention deserves credit in leading a program success story movement within the public health sector. You can find lots of resources at the CDC’s website for developing program success stories. A quick Google search will turn up many success story web pages from public health departments, such as the three listed below:

If you want to create success stories for your program or organization, you need to start with a plan. You want to establish a routine to collect information in a timely manner. To get started, check out the CDC Division of Oral Health’s Tips for Writing an Effective Success Story. For more details, the CDC offers the workbook Impact and Value: Telling Your Program’s Story. The CDC Division of Adolescent and School Health also has a how-to guide for writing success stories: Success Story Optional Tool. Finally, you might find this Success Story Data Collection Tool helpful for organizing and writing your program story.  A data collection sheet could be particularly useful if multiple team members are involved in collecting success story data. The data collection tool is available in PDF or Word formats.

stockfresh_687180_magic-book-with-pages-transforming-into-birds_sizeS (2)

Story-Telling: The NTOTAP Community Health Advocate Project Showcase

Friday, April 3rd, 2015

Want to see how stories can raise the visibility of successful programs? Check out the project showcase of Community Health Advocate programs, created under the direction of the Native Telehealth Outreach and Technical Assistance Program (NTOTAP). NTOTAP, a program of the Centers for American Indian & Alaska Native Health, provides training on website design and social media marketing to Native health programs. The short videos, which are project slides with narrative by the community health advocates themselves, provide digital vignettes of community health advocacy activities and accomplishments.

I heard about the NTOTAP showcase from Spero Manson, PhD, Director of the Centers for American Indian and Alaska Native Health. Dr. Manson was a keynote speaker at the Quint*Essential Conference in Denver last October. He incorporated one of the videos into his presentation. (See the video of Russell George under “Walleen Whitson.”) Dr. Manson’s use of one of the stories proves the versatility of digital story-telling. The audience heard, in a participant’s own words, how a community health program made a difference in his life.

In the field of evaluation, which emphasizes evaluation use, story methods are emerging as an important trend. Project stories seem to have greater reach to program stakeholders than traditional reporting formats. The NTOTAP showcase is a great example of digital project story-telling in action.

Logo for NTOTAPNTOTAP Willeen

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

 

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Last updated on Monday, June 27, 2016

Funded by the National Library of Medicine under Contract No. UG4LM012343 with the University of Washington.