How to Present Program Evaluation Data to Stakeholders using Charts

Krisanna Machtmes, PhD

After analyzing your data you will want to present your data to your stakeholders.  You will need to produce different impact reports for different stakeholders.  Presenting your results in text and graph format will help make it easier for your stakeholders to read and understand.  Many people are more comfortable with interpreting what a graph means then understanding a report that includes numbers that discuss means ( ) and standard deviations (SD) and frequencies.

Charts can be used to show direction and or magnitude of data.  They are very effective in keeping your audience interest in your topic. Data can be produced as bar charts or pie charts or scatterplots or line charts or histogram. 

Two charts that are the easiest to produce and use are a “Pie” chart and “Bar” Chart.

A Pie chart is easy to make and people are very comfortable with understanding that each slice of the “pie” represents a different category of a variable such as race (see the figure one below).  Pie charts are good to use when you want to show the distribution of a variable – for example what percent of the total number of participants in your program identified their race as Hispanic. 

Figure one below is an example of the pie chart – note that each slice of the pie is labeled with the percentage that that slice represents – for example 27% of the participants in your program identified their race as Black and 24 % identified their race as White. By presenting your race data in this format readers are able to easily see that the largest percentage of participants in your program identified their race as Black

If you are able to produce your pie chart in color then do so as it is easier to read but if you cannot print in color choose various shades of grey and patterns to show the separate pie pieces.   Labeling each pie slice with its percentage number eliminates interpretation error by the readers.

Remember that when data is presented in a chart you must give each chart a title that allows the stakeholders to understand what data is being presented in the chart.  Also use a legend to label your data when appropriate.

Caution – pie charts can only represent one variable at a time – do not try to use one pie chart to represent two variables such as race and age.   

Figure 1: Race distribution of participants that attend the workshop on Social Media

A simple bar chart can be used to show the relationship between two variables (see figure two).  Each bar represents the number of individuals in that particular category (gardening).  For example if you want to show which 4-H projects the youth in a high school participate in compared to the total number of youth in that high school you could present your data in a bar chart.

In figure two you can see that categorical variable (4-H project) is on the x-axis (horizontal) and the continuous variable (high school population) is on the y-axis (vertical).  Stakeholders could view this chart and see that at this particular “High School” the largest number of students are in gardening and the lowest number of students are involved in cooking. This type of chart is useful for comparing categories across one variable (4-H projects) in relation to the second variable (high school population).

One advantage of using a bar chart is that you can arrange your data in an easy to read format such as placing the category with the highest number first and then place the rest of the data in descending order.  Using this type of layout the stakeholder can see which category has the largest number of participants and which one has the lowest number of participants without having to place data labels on the bars and using only one color. 

These charts are easy to make in Excel and the instruction on how to produce these charts are contained in the additional resources section.

Figure 2: Type of 4-H projects in which youth attending high school participate

Additional Resources:

Using graphs or charts to illustrate quantitative data: www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/evaluation/pdf/brief12.pdf

Using graphics to report evaluation results: http://learningstore.uwex.edu/Using-Graphics-to-Report-Evaluation-Results-P1022.aspx

How can I make a pie chart in excel to report data?http://www.extension.psu.edu/evaluation/pdf/TS64.pdf

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One Response to How to Present Program Evaluation Data to Stakeholders using Charts

  1. lorac says:

    Your words: “pie charts can only represent one variable at a time”

    So, why then, did you conflate race (white, black, asian) with ethnicity (hispanic, american indian)? American Indians (they are not native to the Americas, they did not evolve here, they walked from Asia over the land bridge) are of Asian descent, and hispanics are either black or white. No, Virginia, there is no “brown” race. Where I come from, this is considered cooking the data to reach your own desired end. Very interesting.

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