When ACET staff met to debrief about the recent AEA Conference in Minneapolis, they had lots of interesting and useful information that they gleaned from days of attending presentations and discussions to share. Here are some comments.
Kirsten: I gravitated towards presentations on data visualization and reporting and sessions in which a skill or technique was demonstrated. In one of the sessions, Simon Geletta (Des Moines University) showed how to build information dashboards. The software was surprisingly easy to use, primarily because it is based on a knowledge and understanding of Excel. Also, if you ever have a chance to watch an Ignite presentation, you may want to do it. Ignite speakers have 5 minutes to talk and 20 presentation slides. The catch? The slides automatically forward every 15 seconds, whether or not the speaker is ready. The result is often a polished, focused summary of the presenter’s work or position. They were inspiring to watch!
Stella: I went to a presentation about college access programs that gave me lots to think about, like the different rubrics used to measure engineering programs. I also went to a session focused on environmental impact that expanded my horizons on what indicators to include for future opportunities. I was also impressed by the work of the University of Minnesota Extension’s cohort model for building evaluation capacity.
Joseph: One presentation I thought was particularly interesting was about evaluation in a for-profit, corporate environment. It ended up being more different [from nonprofit evaluation] than I could have previously imagined. The focus is more on process over outcome, with the understanding that process will lead to outcomes (new business, repeat business, etc.). I did learn some good takeaway strategies that furthered my process evaluation knowledge and skills that will be useful for any sector.
Dan: I found a couple of presentations particularly interesting. One was about using email and postal surveys (or survey invitations) together to maximize response rates, and it went through the different combinations [the presenter] used to deliver the survey (or invite people to complete the survey). Another session I attended was about the analysis of quantitative data with different software packages, and there were some that I knew of, but others I didn’t. I found the functionality of each different software package to be of interest.