Magnolia 2018 Staff Retreat

For this year’s annual staff retreat, the Magnolia Consulting team gathered at a beautiful lake house nestled along Lake Anna in Central Virginia. The theme of this year’s retreat was “Work Smarter, Not Harder,” with the intention of coming together to refine Magnolia’s mission, values, and goals as we continue to move forward in cultivating learning and positive change.

Our retreat involved a great deal of strategic and tactical planning. An external consultant helped guide our team through a series of sessions that involved revisiting our company mission and vision, identifying our personal and company core values, and from this, developing clear goals to work toward. Through stimulating discussion among team members, we worked our way through “SOAR,” which stands for Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations, and Results. Our team found this strengths-based strategic planning approach to be extremely insightful and productive. To think about how we can work in alignment with our strengths and aspirations we discussed current and possible new lines of work. It was an engaging dialogue that concluded in a collective agreement to build our expertise, connections, and focus in community college and workforce development, girls and woman’s education, infographic design for evaluation and research, and capacity building for our clients.

Through our core values of Abundance, Cultivation, Excellence, Integrity, Utilization-Focused and Results-Oriented, Heart-Centered, and Service, we look forward to increasing our own capacity to continue our mission of providing innovative and customized evaluation and research services that improve individual and organizational capacity for positive change.

 

What Adult Learners Need: In Support of Community Colleges

I recently came across an NPR article entitled “What Adult Learners Really Need (Hint: It’s Not Just Job Skills)” by Anya Kamenetz (2018). In the article, the author interviews David Scobey, PhD, who argues against the idea of 2-year degrees, stackable credits, and short-term workforce credential programs. Instead, he suggests that more than 70% of community college students want to get a bachelor’s degree; highlights the importance of a broad, liberal arts education; and suggests that many of the jobs accepting students with third-party credentials will be gone in the next decade.

In reflecting on this article, and drawing on our work with community colleges on Department of Labor grants, including multiple focus groups with a wide variety of community college staff, students, and employers, we believe that several other points should be considered:

  • Community college programs can be responsive to regional workforce needs by having honest conversations with area employers, who can be partners in training and education. When community colleges work with local workforce advisory boards on curriculum development, regional needs, and program implementation, students and employers both benefit. Employers have shared that they want students with basic workforce training and soft skills, and community colleges have partnered with employers to provide students with a foundation for success. Once students receive their credentials or certifications and are employed, the partner employers have stated that they will work with their new employees to advance their training and education. As a result, completing a short-duration program oftentimes does not signify the end of a student’s education or training, but could be just the beginning.
  • Community colleges can provide additional “vertical supports” such as training in soft skills, Microsoft Office, and career readiness, as well as tutoring and coaching. Within these supports, students take courses together and create peer learning communities and cohorts that encourage students and motivate them to persevere (similar to “horizontal supports”). In focus groups, students regularly spoke to the benefits of these supports, commenting on staff and instructors who would do anything to see students succeed and a motivating and supportive “family” of peers in their programs.
  • Remedial education experiences differ, with remediation acting as a potential barrier to continued education. Consider that 91% of 2-year institutions have an open admissions policy, compared to 27% of 4-year institutions (U.S. Department of Education, 2017). As a result, the needs of remedial education students at the community college level are likely very different from the needs of those at the university level. In community colleges, adult learners who pursue additional education after years away can face anxiety as they find themselves in need of remedial math and English courses, and they may be at greater risk of dropping out (Pruett & Absher, 2015). Community college students may also be older and have poorer college adjustment, more difficulty with finances and with accessing college services, and more difficulty with transportation (David et al., 2015; Simmons, 1995). Because of these differences, these students may not have the same opportunities (or desires) to pursue a 4-year degree.
  • Remedial courses can be effective in community colleges if they are contextualized and supportive. We have seen that remedial education at the community college level can be very effective at increasing students’ knowledge, self-confidence, and career self-efficacy if such instruction is included within an overall program model of contextualized support. At capstone presentations at the end of their 6-month programs, we have heard community college students speak to the positive impact that these short-duration programs and remedial courses had on their lives. Many students did not realize that they were “good students” until they participated in these courses.
  • A broad liberal arts curriculum is not for everyone. Many community college students that we have talked to mentioned the benefits of completing an applied program in their chosen field. These students specifically noted that they were not interested in a broader or more expansive liberal arts curriculum.
  • Adult learners should have the option of a shorter-duration program. Students enter these programs for several reasons, such as (a) a belief that their bachelor’s or master’s degree is not helping them to find a job; (b) an eagerness to get back into the workforce after being laid off; or (c) a determination to limit any personal or family financial struggles associated with taking time off from work.
  • Community colleges can support students in going farther than they thought possible. We also heard from community college students who were so motivated and engaged by their supportive, contextualized experiences in 6-month programs that they continued on to other 6-month programs, and some went on to attain an associate degree. Several students who furthered their education shared that they were initially not expecting to seek anything beyond a 6-month certificate, noting that they previously lacked the academic self-efficacy to consider anything else.
  • Short-duration programs can be successful in training students and preparing them for the future, and more models should be shared. It may be that more needs to be shared around successful program models at the community college level. We intend to be part of that discussion. If you are interested in learning more, please see our presentation on a successful cohort-based program model for recruiting, retaining, and employing advanced manufacturing students at the High Impact Technology Exchange Conference (HI-TEC) in July 2018 or contact us for more information.

 

References:

David, K. M., Lee, M. E., Bruce, J. D., Coppedge, B. R., Dickens, D., Friske, J., . . . Thorman, J. (2015). Barriers to success predict fall-to-fall persistence and overall GPA among community college students. Journal of Applied Research in the Community College, 21(1), 5–13.

Pruett, P. S., & Absher, B. (2015). Factors influencing retention of developmental education students in community colleges. Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin, 81(4), 32–40.

Simmons, D. L. (1995). Retraining dislocated workers in the community college: Identifying factors for persistence. Community College Review, 23(2), 47–58.

U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), Fall 2000 and Fall 2010 Institutional Characteristics component and Winter 2015–16 and 2016–17 Admissions component. Table retrieved from https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d17/tables/dt17_305.30.asp?current=yes

 

Eight Steps to Conducting an Evidence Search

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) promotes the use of federal funds to purchase programs that have evidence of effectiveness in increasing student success. But how can state and local education leaders find programs and practices that meet ESSA evidence standards? As part of a partnership between Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Central at Marzano Research Associates and the Nebraska Department of Education, we provided technical support in developing a systematic process for conducting evidence searches. If you are on a quest for rigorous evidence to support a program or practice, here are eight steps you can follow to conduct a search.

  • Step 1: Define constructs. To start, it is important to fully understand what you are looking for! Therefore, the first step of the process is to thoroughly define the program or practice that is the subject of your search, including its expected outcomes.
  •  Step 2: Identify search databases. The Internet is bursting with search engines! However, some will be more relevant to the search than others. In this step, take some time to determine which search engines and databases will be most appropriate to this specific search. If the search is in the realm of education, websites and search databases such as What Works Clearinghouse (WWC), REL publications, and Evidence for ESSA are good places to start because the studies on these sites have already been reviewed against rigorous standards.
  • Step 3: Determine inclusion criteria. There is so much literature out there! Therefore, it is necessary to set criteria for including a study to review. Good criteria will help you focus weed out studies that aren’t relevant to your search and focus your attention on those with the highest potential to meet evidence standards. Criteria might include study design characteristics, such as a randomized controlled trial or quasi-experimental design, or program characteristics, such as relevant outcomes.
  • Step 4: Determine search terms. Before beginning the search, determine and record the search terms to be used in the search process. Be sure to consider synonyms and alternative terms for the constructs you defined in Step 1.
  • Step 5: Prepare the search database. Before you begin, you’ll need to prepare a database to document your search results and describe studies that meet inclusion criteria. We use an Excel spreadsheet with column headers to capture study design characteristics that speak to the study’s rigor and program characteristics that help define the program and explain why it’s effective and how it can be replicated. Include additional column headers for any information relevant to your specific search purposes.
  • Step 6: Conduct the search. Now you are ready to conduct the search! Enter the search terms identified in step 4 into the search engines and databases identified in Step 2 and review the results. If a study seems relevant, review the abstract or the entire study more carefully to determine if it meets your inclusion criteria. As you conduct the search, document the number of initial results, number of abstracts reviewed, and number of studies identified for further consideration in the spreadsheet or other tool prepared in Step 5. It is important to track these numbers to capture historical data regarding your search as well as representation of the breadth and depth of your search process.
  • Step 7: Document studies. Yay, a study meets your inclusions criteria! Document those studies that fit your criteria in the spreadsheet you prepared in step 5. This creates a record of these studies, so they can be further examined and reviewed.
  • Step 8: Review the search process. Throughout the search process, it is important to periodically evaluate the findings and the process in general to ensure the review is on track and identifying the most relevant studies. Review the studies you’ve captured. Are you finding studies that align with your search goals? If not, revisit the search design (steps 1–5) and revise steps as needed. Also review the results of the search and determine whether the studies you’ve documented are providing strong supporting evidence for your program or practice. It is important to gauge this regularly so you know if you are on track.

These eight easy steps will help you organize any evidence search so you find the most relevant studies to support your program or practice in a systematic and efficient manner. For more information on meeting ESSA requirements for evidence-based programs and practices, check out WestEd’s resources for states here.

Crafting a Powerful Message: Steps to Develop an Impactful Infographic

In late February we visited Columbia, South Carolina to deliver our Introduction to Infographics and Strategies for Use in Evaluation workshop at Children’s Trust of South Carolina. Children’s Trust is a statewide nonprofit focused on strengthening families and leading communities to prevent child abuse and neglect. Children’s Trust uses infographics to share statewide data with policy makers and legislators in a visually compelling and succinct way. The workshop audience included participants from several different agencies who provided unique perspectives on data visualization and different ways to “tell the story” using an infographic.

We used this workshop as an opportunity to debut a new resource for creating infographics, a worksheet titled, “Crafting a Powerful Message.” The goal of this worksheet is to serve as a guide in developing an infographic’s audience, purpose, and message. The worksheet provides several examples, as well as a framework to assist you when creating your own infographic. Clearly and intentionally defining these three elements is a critical first step in developing an infographic, and makes the process of creating an infographic much easier! To read more about these first three steps in our 10 Steps to Creating an Infographic, check out a blog post from Stephanie Wilkerson here. Crafting a Powerful Message and several other resources for creating infographics can be found on our website here. We hope you find these resources useful as you begin creating your own infographics.

Characteristics of School Employee Sexual Misconduct: What We Know from a 2014 Sample

From September 2016­ to January 2017, Magnolia Consulting conducted a study on the implementation of Title IX guidance in school districts that had experienced incidents of school employee sexual misconduct in 2014. As part of the study, researchers conducted a landscape analysis of 459 cases from 2014 originally archived by Stop Educator Sexual Abuse Misconduct and Exploitation (S.E.S.A.M.E.), a nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing school employee sexual misconduct, using Google alerts to capture mentions in online media. The analysis sought to identify key characteristics of the schools where cases occurred as well as of offenders and victims. The information presented in this blog post is based on that database.

School employee sexual misconduct refers to sexual abuse (inappropriate or illegal contact) or misconduct (inappropriate communication or other unethical behaviors that may not involve physical contact) by a school employee (a teacher, coach, administrator, volunteer, or other staff member) with a child while caring for that child in a K–12 school setting. As the frequency of media headlines around this topic demonstrates, school employee sexual misconduct is far from uncommon in the United States. While prevalence data are not readily available, data from the year 2000 suggest that approximately one in 10 students will experience sexual abuse or misconduct at the hands of a school employee, ranging from sexual jokes to sexual intercourse, by the time they graduate from high school (American Association of University Women, 2001).

Who are the offenders and victims in school employee sexual misconduct cases?

In an effort to better understand offenders and victims, we analyzed demographic data from cases reported by the media in 2014. There are several limitations to using media reports in this way. Most notably, these cases represent only the tip of the iceberg; many more incidents go unreported to law enforcement and therefore are not publicly reported. Further, no two offenders or victims are the same. However, our sample provides a glimpse into who is typically involved. Additionally, we were able to gather information about the characteristics of schools where school employee sexual misconduct occurred.

Offender characteristics

In our sample, offenders were mostly general education teachers, male, white, and heterosexual, with an average age of 36. Half of the offenders had been the subject of previous allegations of inappropriate relationships with students. Approximately 3 out of 4 offenders used technology to communicate with victims, with mobile devices being the most common form of technology used. A third of offenders had more than one victim; almost half of offenders who had multiple victims (47%) had two victims.

Victim Characteristics

 While media reports tended to protect information about victims, victim age and gender were typically reported in the cases we analyzed. Thus, we know that victims of school employee sexual misconduct were most often female and teenagers. Slightly over half of victims in our sample were female (56%), with an average age of 15.

What are the characteristics of schools where school employee sexual misconduct occurs?

In our sample, schools that experienced incidents of school employee sexual misconduct were most often located in the southern region of the United States. We found that incidents were more frequently reported in public, suburban high schools. Additionally, cases were more common in schools with high percentages of minorities and students eligible for free and reduced-price lunch. Slightly over half (53%) of incidents in our sample occurred off school premises.

Although we were able to glean much information about school employee sexual misconduct from media cases reported in 2014, more reliable reporting about school employee sexual misconduct is needed to better understand who is being affected and to improve tracking of offenders. If you are interested in learning more about our study, please find the full report here. Along with the report, we created an infographic detailing more information about characteristics. Additionally, visit S.E.S.A.M.E.’s website for additional resources and information about school employee sexual misconduct.

References

American Association of University Women [AAUW] (2001). Hostile hallways: The AAUW survey on sexual harassment in America’s schools. Washington, DC: American Association of University Women.

 

Save Time and Add Style: Creating an Icon Gallery for Reporting

At Magnolia Consulting, we use icons in a variety of ways to illustrate key ideas and takeaways in our reporting. Icons provide a quick visual reference for readers of infographics and written reports. Once we began incorporating icons into our various reporting methods, we quickly learned that there are a lot of available icons. To streamline our process for selecting and using icons, we created the Magnolia Icon Gallery. This tool saves time and ensures a consistent icon style across reporting methods.

If you spend a lot of time hunting for icons, it might be useful for you to create an icon gallery of your own. Below are some tips to consider when creating an icon gallery.

  • Locate icons on the web. We recommend checking out The Noun Project and IconFinder (see our full list of icon websites here). While some of these resources offer free icons, others require a paid account for full use of the icon collection. When looking for icons, always pay attention to the citation and license requirements of the icon.
  • Use the right file format. If you download icons in PNG file types, they are easy to resize and have a transparent background. This makes it easier to insert your icon on any color background. If you use Inkscape or Illustrator, you can also download them in an SVG file. This format allows you to change the color and design of the icon (again, pay attention to copyright requirements).
  • Consider icon style. When putting together an icon gallery, remember to be mindful of the style of icons that are being used. It will look more professional to have a consistent style of icons across all of your reporting. For example, some icons are simple outlines, while others are filled in or block style. Identify your organization’s preferred icon style and try to stick with that when downloading icons.
  • Identify commonly used phrases for icons. To determine what icons are needed, try working collaboratively with colleagues to identify key words and phrases that are commonly expressed as icons in any reporting. This decreases the need to search for icons every time they are required. For example, we regularly use icons to represent the words “student,” “teacher,” and “school.” We recommend having a few options for each key word to prevent repetitive icons.
  • Download icons. Create a process for combing through the key words and downloading icons. At Magnolia, we divided up the key words between team members, downloaded three to five options for each word, and then voted on our favorites.
  • Organize your icon gallery. Once the icons have all been selected, organize them in a readily accessible location. Ours are available in shared folders for quick access.

If you are regularly using icons, you may want to consider creating an icon gallery to save time and ensure consistent icon style and usage. Try out the tips above to get started on creating your gallery!

School Employee Sexual Misconduct Study Finds K-12 School Districts Fail to Implement Key Elements of Title IX

Charlottesville, VA (Oct. 31, 2017) — An estimated one in ten K–12 students—about 4.5 million children—will experience sexual abuse at the hands of a school employee at some point in their education, according to one study. Yet, a recent Department of Justice–sponsored study conducted by Magnolia Consulting, a Charlottesville-based education research firm, suggests that K–12 school districts might not fully implement federal guidance for preventing and responding to school employee sexual misconduct, even after an incident is reported.

School employee sexual misconduct is covered by Title IX of the educational amendments of 1972, the law most widely known for addressing gender equity in sports. However, the provisions of Title IX reach much further, prohibiting sexual discrimination and sexual harassment of any kind in educational institutions that receive federal funds. Title IX guidance, created by the Department of Education to support schools in implementing the law, requires that school districts have clear, written policies and procedures regarding school employee sexual misconduct; those policies and procedures, the guidance says, should include training to help staff, students, and parents recognize unacceptable behavior and other prevention measures, as well as processes to ensure a quick and effective response to complaints. Under the law, institutions that do not comply with these policy requirements—including K–­12 schools and school districts—can be liable for civil damages if school employees engage in sexual misconduct involving students.

The Magnolia Consulting study focused on implementation of the key elements of Title IX guidance in school districts that had experienced incidents of school employee sexual misconduct. Researchers found that, although school districts reported improvements to some policies and procedures, as well as improvements in awareness, communication, and district leadership, various challenges—including an incomplete understanding of the full requirements of Title IX and the associated guidance—continued to hamper districts’ efforts to comply with Title IX guidance. Representatives from all participating districts reported being unclear about what exactly Title IX requirements were and how they should be implemented. In addition, participants reported various challenges in implementing key elements of Title IX, including difficulty finding model policies, budget limitations, low parent engagement, fear of the consequences of reporting, and poor responses from criminal justice and child welfare agencies when incidents were reported.

According to Magnolia Consulting Senior Researcher Billie-Jo Grant, the principal investigator for the study, poor implementation of policy and prevention efforts may have negative consequences for both prevention and investigation of incidents, leading to long-term effects for victims. “The results of this study show us that more work needs to be done to guide and monitor the implementation of Title IX guidance and keep our students safe at school,” Grant says. “Title IX is only as effective as its implementation by school districts—staff, parents, and students are our eyes and ears for identifying and reporting these cases.”

The report concludes with several recommendations for addressing implementation challenges. School district leaders, researchers say, should review their district’s Title IX policies and implementation efforts, with support from federal and state departments of education, who need to develop model policies, establish accountability measures, and provide high-quality, low-cost training. Sexual misconduct training curricula should be included both in teacher training and in school employee orientation programs and training should be repeated periodically. Finally, policymakers and legislators need to issue parameters to guide education leaders in developing policies and advocate for evaluation, accountability, and funding for research. Researchers can analyze prevalence data to determine whether policies are working and contribute to prevention by analyzing the characteristics of both offenders and particularly vulnerable students.

Magnolia Consulting President Stephanie Wilkerson, who was the co-principal investigator for the study, said, “We see weekly headlines reporting cases of school employees sexually abusing students, and yet there is no national dialogue about what should be done to prevent it. This study emphasizes districts’ need for more effective communication, support, and accountability from federal and state leaders on implementing Title IX elements intended to help prevent school employee sexual misconduct. The protection of students from sexual predators in schools should be an issue we’re talking about; we hope this research study serves as a starting point for that conversation.”

“A Case Study of K–12 School Employee Sexual Misconduct: Lessons Learned from Title IX Policy Implementation” was executed as part of the National Institute of Justice Comprehensive School Safety Initiative, a federal program that awarded $69 million in grants to study the causes and consequences of school violence. Researchers collected data from 92 participants (41 interviews and 10 focus groups), as well as a review of documentation and policies, in five geographically and demographically diverse districts. All five districts experienced an incident of school employee sexual misconduct in 2014; the data were collected in 2016–2017.

The project was supported by Award No. 2015-CK-BX-0009, awarded by the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of Justice.

For more information, resources, and to read the full report, please visit our Publications and Reporting page.

Questions? Contact Billie-Jo Grant, Ph.D., 805-550-9132 and bgrant@magnoliaconsulting.org

Reflections on Eclipse 2017

In January 2016, Magnolia Consulting began working with the National Solar Observatory to evaluate the NASA- and NSF-funded Citizen CATE Experiment, which prepared citizen scientists across the path of totality to capture images of the solar corona during the August 2017 solar eclipse. Beth, one of our evaluators, was on the ground with a Citizen CATE team on August 21 and wrote the following account of her experience.

 

The Citizen CATE project had teams placed along the path of totality from Oregon to South Carolina. Each team had one of the project’s 68 identical telescopes, which were equipped with cameras and software to take images of the sun during the eclipse. As part of our evaluation of the project, I was one of the thousands of people who descended on Madras, Oregon—one of the best viewing spots in the country—on August 21st.

The Citizen CATE team had set up in the parking lot of the Erickson Aircraft Collection, a museum of World War II aircraft. As the moon made first contact with the sun, the citizen scientists prepared to record their images. The preparations were vital because each Citizen CATE team had only one chance to record the eclipse. The nervous excitement of the Madras team was palpable in the moments leading up to totality.

After all the preparations, the moment came. A citizen scientist announced totality, and after a short cheer, the earth became eerily quiet and the sky turned brilliant purple and orange, resembling twilight at 10:20 in the morning. The recording began, and the citizen scientists reverently stood alongside the rest of the crowd as the earth felt a serene stillness. My observations halted at this point. The power of the phenomenon took precedence, and for those two minutes and two seconds, there was no evaluation, there were no scientists, there were no crowds of people, there was only the moon and the sun as they danced across the sky. Nature was the ultimate observation as time seemed to stand still.

As the sun began to emerge again, the stillness was broken. The citizen scientists went back into action, and the crowd resumed its cheers. Awoken from nature’s trance, I noticed so many things that had been going on around me. Skydivers were drifting closer to earth after having the best seats in the house. A couple was hugging after a very well-timed marriage proposal was made and accepted. And importantly, a camera had been silently recording the sun’s corona during totality.

The pressure was on at this point—had the citizen scientists succeeded? Had they captured the images? In the moments following totality, one citizen scientist said that he had observed the camera stopping, for no apparent reason, at 103 seconds instead of recording for the full 123 seconds. More nerve-racking still, the team struggled to find the data on their computer for a few intense moments. Once it was found, the team breathed a sigh of relief, completed the checklist to back up the data, and successfully uploaded the images.

While the team is still not sure why the camera stopped or whether researchers will feel that the cirrus clouds impacted the quality of the data, the images I was privy to were breathtaking and the experience was amazing. Now I’m ready for the 2024 eclipse!

Lights, Camera, Action: Using Video to Share Evaluation Findings (Part 2)

Part 2: Tips and Tricks for Creating a PowerPoint Video

Have you ever wanted to create an animated video but aren’t sure where to begin? One program to consider is PowerPoint. Believe it or not, PowerPoint is good for more than just slide shows— its many design capabilities make it a powerful choice for producing videos.

We used PowerPoint to create our video submission to the American Evaluation Association’s 2017 video contest. We learned a lot along the way, and now we’re sharing our tips and tricks to help you as you create your own video in PowerPoint. (This official resource provides a great overview of PowerPoint’s animation tab.)

Designing

  • Start simple. For beginners, abstract animations tend to look more professional than trying to create very realistic animations. It takes a lot of skill to create realistic animations, so play it safe and design animations that match your skill level.
  • Less can be more. Once you figure out all that PowerPoint animation can do, it’s easy to go overboard and make your video too busy. Make sure that each animation serves a purpose by telling the story, creating a transition, or adding emphasis.

Creating

  • Effect options. Each animation effect has its own options. You can change the direction of the effect, specify the color or size, or set text animations to occur by letter, word, or paragraph. When exploring the animation effects, also take a peek at “Effect Options” to see all the possibilities for the animation.
  • Copying animation. You can use the Animation Painter (similar to Format Painter) to easily copy the animations of one object onto another. Total time saver!
  • Start options. When starting an animation, you can select “Start On Click,” “Start With Previous,” or “Start After Previous.” We recommend using “Start With Previous” wherever appropriate because this allows you to tweak the durations and delays to make the animation occur at the right moment. When an animation starts before the previous animation has finished, the video appears smoother and more professional.
  • You don’t have to always rely on animations to make things happen. There are some cool transitions that can help your video. For example, the morph transition can save you a lot of time. Take a look through all of the transitions and keep them in mind. As with animations, use transitions only when they are helpful to the video; too many transitions can quickly look unprofessional.

Recording

  • PowerPoint is a one-stop shop. You can record your voiceover in PowerPoint and then export it as a video.
  • Tweaking the timing. Animations require constant tweaking of the timing. Don’t hesitate to revisit the timing of each animation and slow it down or speed it up to flow better and match the voice recording.

There are many reasons why a video might be a useful tool for your evaluation (see Part 1 of this series). We hope these tips and tricks are helpful as you begin to explore this feature of PowerPoint.

Lights, Camera, Action: Using Video to Share Evaluation Findings

Part 1: Why Create a Video?

As evaluators, we are always looking for compelling ways to share our work and connect with our audience. One way to effectively achieve this goal is through video. In Part 1 of this two-part series, we outline why you might consider creating videos to disseminate your work. In Part 2, we detail how to produce a short animated video using PowerPoint, including tips and takeaways from our own experience creating Magnolia Consulting’s submission for the American Evaluation Association’s 2017 video contest (check out our video below!).

Through this process, we learned about video’s potential for disseminating information and sharing findings. We have added this option to our dissemination toolbox, and we encourage you to do the same. Here are some reasons why:

  • Videos are more visually compelling and accessible than text. A short video will hold the viewer’s attention more easily than a dense, text-heavy report. Given that a video relies on visuals and audio to convey its message, this form of media will share your story and draw on viewers’ emotions in a more powerful way than text alone.
  • Videos are concise. You can convey key findings in a few minutes, making video a much more concise way to disseminate findings than a lengthy report.
  • Videos can be inexpensive and easy to create. In today’s world of accessible technology, including cell phones and a multitude of free editing software, it’s easier than ever to create a video as a beginner. We made our video in PowerPoint, which is a program that most evaluators have ready access to and already know how to use.
  • Videos can be disseminated to a wide audience. Videos can reach a wider audience via YouTube, social media, and other online platforms.

Are you ready to create your own video? In Part 2 of this series, we’ll show you tips and tricks for creating a video in PowerPoint.