“A picture is worth a thousand words.” Pictures or images provide another way of presenting information, and increasing understanding of your results. Graphics tools such as a pie chart, or drawings and photographs can help visualize different kinds of data, and strengthen a report’s narrative by illustrating the project activities or context. Images can also bridge differences in language, context and culture.
Using images during an evaluation can also help to tap into hidden meaning that may not be possible through a survey approach. Images can be used in many different ways in data collection. For example, you can ask a participant to create an image (or take a photograph or video), bring one that is representative of their experience or select one from a series of images presented to them. They can create a “story board” of images (drawings or photos) that can tell a story over time related to the evaluation. As part of a needs assessment, they can use images to represent the current situation and the desired future state.
"An evaluator asked program staff to draw images of the old organization and what they hoped for in the new organization, as part of an evaluation for intended organizational changes. At the end of the evaluation, the findings were presented to organizational leaders and a few of these drawings were shared, as they illustrated some of the evaluation’s key findings
The leaders were struck by the drawings and were surprised to see staff reactions towards the planned changes; the leaders admitted that they had not considered the staff’s potential negative feedback.
It is unlikely that the evaluation finding—communicated through words alone or even supported with verbatim quotes—would have had the same impact on these leaders."
Source: Torres et al. 2005.
Source: Stetson (2008), p. 31
- Communicating and reporting on an evaluation: Guidelines and Tools: This guide provides a number of strategies for presenting evaluation findings including the use of pictures
- Picture This: Using Images to Gather and Communicate Evaluation Data: Workshop about using photographic and drawn images to gather and communicate evaluation data with and among various types of stakeholder groups.
Hoole, E., & Hannum, K. M. Australasian Evaluation Society, (2008). Picture this: Using images to gather and communicate evaluation data. Retrieved from website: http://www.aes.asn.au/images/stories/files/conferences/2008/Papers/p44.pdf
Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Washington, DC and Baltimore, Maryland. Retrieved from http://www.crsprogramquality.org/storage/pubs/me/MEmodule_communicating.pdf
Torres, R.T., Preskill, H., & Piontek, M. E. (2005), Evaluation Strategies for Communicating and Reporting: Enhancing Learning in Organizations. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.