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Thank You and Happy New Year!

A Message From Team CRC All of us at CRC wish to send out a hearty THANK YOU and HAPPY NEW YEAR to our many clients, partners, collaborators, and friends. We thank you for helping our firm to have another successful year in 2017, in which we were honored to help organizations and agencies -- large and small, local and national -- to demonstrate and tell their stories of the important work they do. We look forward to continuing our work with you in the new year! We'll remember 2017 for many reasons related to CRC's projects, but a very few not totally work-related highlights were: Learning to row thanks to Taj and the Baltimore Rowing Club at Learn to Row Day. Celebrating Taj's 50th birthday! Sheila, Dana, and Mandi presenting to a packed house...

Why I Love Interactive Dashboards

by Sheila Data visualization involves the presentation of data in a graphical format with the goal of communicating complex information more clearly and efficiently to audiences. Effective visualizations make complex data more accessible, understandable, and usable. And sometimes even fun to look at! I like visualizing data because like many others, I’m a visual learner. If you consider that 90% of information that comes to the brain is visual, and that the brain processes visual information 60,000 faster than text, then you start to understand why visualizing complex data is beneficial in both research and evaluation. That’s exactly why I LOVE dashboards.  What’s a dashboard?A dashboard is a data visualization tool that displays the status of metrics and key performance indicators for programs or organizations. In dashboards, tables, graphs, and charts are created...

Work smarter, not harder, with Python

by Mandi Here at CRC, we’ve been focused on working smarter, not harder, by utilizing different skills and adding new tools to our tool belt. One of those tools is Python, and it has been a lifesaver for streamlining our data processes, saving us time and increasing productivity.   What is Python? Python is a simple, yet powerful programming language that is relatively easy to learn. It can be used for a variety of things, including to create practical programs that automate tasks on your computer, as a support language for software developers, and in web and internet development. It’s often compared to other programming languages like C++, Java, and JavaScript. Python is compatible with many operating systems including specialized and/or older operating systems like Solaris and Linux.   Why use Python?  Python has...

Image of interlocking puzzle pieces from https://img1.etsystatic.com/031/1/8317615/il_340x270.647688173_22k8.jpg

Data Modeling 101: The What? Why? and When?

by Dana  What is a Data Model? In semi-technical terms, “A data model is a set of symbols and text used for communicating a precise representation of an information landscape.” (Hoberman, 2016, p.13). In layman’s terms (i.e., my interpretation) a data model is similar to a blueprint used when building a house. It contains lines and shapes denoting the location of where the different rooms will be located, and where the different pipes and wirings will go, so that the builders can use it as reference during the construction of the house.  The process of creating a data model is called data modeling.   3 Types of Data Models   1. Conceptual data models (CMDs): Higher level model that includes only business rules and concepts with a defined scope. This model is created...

Design & Evaluation: Craft Clarity

by Taj This is the third and final post in a series about design thinking in evaluation. I've found that designers and evaluators grapple with similar issues, so the goal of this series is to share insights from the world of design that may help you think differently about data collection and visualization and, hopefully, start a broader conversation about what the world of social sciences can learn from the world of design. For more on this, see my earlier posts on radical collaboration and focusing on human values.  This time around we’re focusing on another key tenet in the design thinking world: crafting clarity. To craft clarity means to frame things for understanding, reduce jargon, and make your work accessible to as broad an audience as possible.  One of the...

Tailoring Qualitative Methods to Evaluation Clients’ Needs

by Jill (Re-post from AEA365; see the original here.) At CRC I’m the “word nerd”, implementing our qualitative projects. Like many evaluators, I’ve had to translate academically-honed skills to the often faster-paced world of evaluation. A recent project for a county health department’s substance abuse initiative provides an example of how I tailor qualitative methods to meet clients’ needs. Hot Tips Allot ample time for clarifying goals. As with all good research, methods choices flow from the question at hand. In this case, our client wanted to understand the impact of substance abuse on their county, and new resources to be tapped. Like many clients, they lacked research savvy, and thought they required services exceeding their budget and available time. We gradually learned they had access to lots of quantitative data and support from...

The Opioid Epidemic – When Prescriptions Become the Problem

by Sheila Matano[su_youtube url="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hx7WLlJzrlw"] Recently, CRC has been working with several clients who are evaluating initiatives to combat substance misuse and abuse. In particular, these agencies have been concerned with how their local communities have been impacted by the problem of drug overdoses and opioid-involved deaths, which have markedly increased in the United States over the past decade (CDC.gov). More than six out of ten drug overdose deaths involve an opioid, and The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 91 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose (Rudd, Seth, & Scholl, 2016). In this interactive quiz from the New York Times, you can place the opioid epidemic in deeper context, seeing just how steep the rise has been, by drawing the trends in deaths from guns, the HIV epidemic,...

How to Prove Your Youth Program is Rockin’

by Mandi Singleton Are you passionate about making a difference in the lives of youth? Many of my clients are, and the time, effort, and money they put into creating killer programs is proof enough that they are invested in forming positive and meaningful experiences for the young people that they work with.  BUT, how do program directors really know they are creating quality experiences for youth? How exactly is this measured? By the size of smiles on youth’s faces? Perhaps by tracking enrollment, attendance, and engagement? Maybe a youth satisfaction survey? These are all good answers – but I’ll let you in on a well-known secret; there’s a tool designed specifically for this purpose: The Youth Program Quality Assessment (PQA).   The PQA is a research-based tool developed by The...

Need to Measure Collaboration? We’ve Got a Tool for You

Collaborating is hard; measuring collaboration doesn't always have to be. We're currently working with a client to do just that, among other things. A system-wide change initiative, located in California, this client's work is aimed at helping a large number of agencies and organizations work together to reduce domestic violence. A primary goal of the initiative is to improve the ways in which the various, diverse partners work together. Measuring this type of change can be a challenge for evaluators. So for this project, we once again turned to the Wilder Collaboration Factors Inventory.  This tool, developed by the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation, measures 20 factors, backed by extensive research, that can help you to know whether and to what extent your collaborative is working well. It takes only about fifteen...

Design& Evaluation: Focus on Human Values

This is the second post in a series about design thinking in evaluation. The goal of this series is to share insights from the world of design that may help you think differently about how you work and, hopefully, start a conversation about what the world of social sciences can learn from the world of design. If you missed Part 1 about radical collaboration, check it out here.This time around we’re focusing on another key idea in the design thinking world: human values. As evaluators, we may deal largely in numbers and spend a lot of time in front of spreadsheets. Yet we can’t forget the real reason we do what we do – helping people. And to help people, we have to understand where they’re coming from. The Institute...