CRC’s 2014 In Review
We’ve had an extraordinarily busy year, and are so pleased to have shared much of it with you!
This month, rather than a blog with evaluation-related info and tips, we’re once again ending our work year together by taking looks back and forward.
Along with continuing to provide high quality evaluation and data services to clients — both existing and new for 2014 — Carson Research has completed its long-term project of updating our branding and communications so that they better reflect what we do and who we serve. Heading into 2015, we hope you’ll become used to hearing from us as simply “CRC”, in addition to calling us that to save breath and/or typing time.
To quickly catch you up on our 2014, our resident data viz department, held down by Ashley, beautifully summarized our year’s activities:
But, as is our custom, we also asked all the CRCers to say a little (note: our definitions of “little” vary) something about their year. Below, our staff reflects on things they’ve experienced and learned from in 2014 and things they’re looking forward to in 2015:
- Ashley, Database Analyst
This year I learned that infographics and dashboards are AWESOME! Utilizing fun icons, cool graphs, and eye-catching colors to tell data stories for our clients has been so much fun. I am looking forward to exploring more resources for creating them!
- Dana, Research Assistant
I assisted with the implementation of a community survey and, having never done something like that before, I was able to learn a lot of new skills. Planning, implementing and analyzing the results of the surveys within a 2-3 month span was hectic to say the least, but the experience helped me gain a lot of valuable tools and resources. I also took a qualitative analysis course at The Evaluator’s institute in DC and an AEA online webinar on survey methods and sampling, which helped me learn new tips and tricks that I can incorporate into my current and future work. I also had the opportunity to learn some Arc GIS mapping skills and self-taught myself some rudimentary VBA coding skills on excel as I worked on a proposal database for CRC. I’m looking forward to working on new projects and learning new things from them, as well as utilizing some of the skills I have learned over the course of this year, such as mapping.
- Jill, Research Analyst
In 2014 I was greatly relieved and proud to officially complete my PhD program at UMBC! My favorite learning opportunity of the year was attending Museum Camp at Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History. It provided me with inspiring and invigorating ideas about how to make evaluation more user-friendly, engaging, and even fun for everyone involved! Next year I hope to apply more of what I learned at camp, attend other, similarly enlightening conferences, as well as to continue honing my visualization skills.
- Kevin, Controller
I tore my ACL in July throwing discus and had to drop out of track & field at the 2014 Gay Games. I postponed surgery and went on to win 3 gold and a bronze in my main sport of swimming at the Games. I am now rehabbing after cadaveric ACL replacement & meniscus surgery. I still have many months of PT ahead of me but have registered for the 2015 EuroGames in Stockholm, Sweden to be held in August. It’s on!
- Leslie, Research Analyst
This fall, I began a second master’s degree in Educational Psychology. It’s been challenging fitting studying into my schedule and the online format of the program is a new experience for me, but I enjoy being back in school. I’m looking forward to the classes I’ll take next semester in educational measurement and assessment development.
- Mandi, Research Assistant
What I learned this year: (1) Giving presentations isn’t so scary after all – even at national conferences. (This year I attended AEA 2014 as a first time presenter); (2) Focus groups with can be both fun and informative. (I performed a number of child focus groups this past year and found there were certain activities that kept kids more engaged during the session than others. Stay tuned for an upcoming CRC blog for details!). What I’m looking forward to next year: (1) More focus groups (I’m looking forward to conducting more focus groups next year, refining my interviewing skills, and finding different focus group activities that are both fun and engaging.); (2) Data visualization (I plan to incorporate more data visualization into the work I do. Including qualitative data visualization tools and techniques; (3) Attending conferences (I enjoy the workshops, networking with other evaluators, and traveling, especially to places I’ve never been to before).
- Matthew, GIS Analyst
This year I began learning how to code and to use that code to make more dynamic and customized maps. Next year I’m looking forward to expanding GIS skills and coding to grow the mapping services division here at CRC.
- Sarah, Technology & Information Specialist
The coolest thing that I learned this year was how to program in PHP. It’s an incredibly powerful programming language! And next year, I am looking forward to launching our own online database application, using PHP and some other fun things!
- Sheila, Research Analyst
The coolest thing I did this year was travel. At EERS, it was great to see old friends and hear Dr. Rog’s talk on infusing evaluation theory with practice. In New Orleans, hearing six surgeons general speak at APHA about their challenges, accomplishments and vision for the future was inspirational. In Detroit, I got to learn how Shinola makes their watches; it was also great to visit D3 and see how the organization works to provide communities with to high-quality data. In Minneapolis, I learned about different data viz techniques at EYEO and visited art installations at Northern Spark. In New York, I attended the launch of Data & Society and met great folks who are researching the social, cultural, and ethical issues arising from data-centric tech development. At the CIC impact summit in DC, I heard how various tools can be used to tell more meaningful, accurate, and connected stories that can improve community outcomes. All were great experiences, but watching world renowned rugby players compete for the World Series Title at Sam Boyd Stadium was, by far, the most awesome thing I did this year. What’s next? In 2015 I’m looking forward to perfecting my chocolate mug cake recipe, learning more about data viz and improving my mapping skills. I’d also like to tackle learning a new language on duolingo.
- Taj, CEO
The big game changer for me was attending the EYEO Festival in Minneapolis in June. EYEO brings together data geeks, coders, designers and artists for some of the most fascinating presentations and conversations I have ever experienced at a conference. It is THE data visualization gathering, in my opinion. I was so inspired by my experiences there, that I chose to take the big leap to go back to school. I’m now back in grad school, earning (another) Master’s Degree, this time in Information Visualization at MICA. Becoming a beginner again is very humbling, and I’m excited to see how what I learn in this program can help CRC go so much farther in our efforts to help our clients to visualize and understand their data.
- Tracy, Research Associate
My biggest learning experience in 2014 was designing and implementing a community survey in two Baltimore City neighborhoods. In the coming year, I anticipate opportunities to work with new clients and expand my evaluation skill set.
Happy New Year, and here’s to new learning, growth, and gainful opportunities… as well as more beautiful data… for you and yours in 2015!