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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...

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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...

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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...

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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,...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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Monitoring Program Capacity

Over the past couple of blog entries, Taj has shared lessons learned about design thinking that you can apply to your work. Taj will be continuing that series soon, but in the meantime, we wanted to share a related example of creating a simple, but effective, visualization for a client. Background A local agency wanted to track client capacity on a monthly basis. This agency oversees services to pregnant women across multiple program locations, so tracking such information is necessary not only for their oversight of services, but also for sound management of dollars received from their funderEach service program under our client’s purview has an individualized contracted site capacity (i.e., maximum number of clients that they could serve), and dealt with an influx of clients enrolling and withdrawing from services each...

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Numbers Count: How to Use Data for More Effective Fundraising

Let’s face it, fundraising can be one of the most dreaded aspects of running a nonprofit. A lot of people feel unprepared and apprehensive about it; asking for money is hard. But there are ways to make it a little easier, and more effective.That’s where data come in.Perhaps you think of data and fundraising as natural complements to each other. Perhaps you never considered using data in your fundraising efforts. And perhaps you aren’t even sure what qualifies as data. Well, I’m here to help. In this post I’ll go over how you can use data to support and enhance your fundraising efforts for more successful results.Why Even Use Data?You might be wondering, “Isn’t fundraising all about emotional appeal? So why even use data at all?” It’s true that people...

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Design & Evaluation: Radical Collaboration

by Taj (Pardon our silence over these past several months! After our unintentional hiatus, we’re be getting back into our blogging routine, sharing evaluation related news, tips, and tricks on a somewhat monthly basis. Starting with today’s post, the first in a series of posts about design and evaluation...

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