At the NEC and the NNLM, surveys play an important role in our evaluation practice. We spend a lot of time thinking about surveys, designing them in accordance with “best practices,” and implementing them in a user-friendly manner. In addition to all of this, we also need to think about disseminating our findings effectively to different audiences.
This month, we are kicking off the discussion about communicating survey findings effectively by highlighting a terrific effort from the Museums for All Study at the Thanksgiving Point Institute in Lehi, Utah. This project is a practical approach to reporting survey results.
What we like: simple, accessible language; provides basic background and contextual-comparative information to understand the purpose of the data collection process; offers a section on survey design and distribution; presents basic numbers on surveys completed as well as preliminary findings.
What we love: how well the report is tailored to the public (concise and free of jargon); their translation of the survey instrument to Spanish (an accessibility win!) and how they modeled their survey on pre-existent, validated survey instruments (the Museum Social Impact study). Their report offers specific quotes of real survey takers, and they end with their thoughts on next steps — great planning ahead.
What could be better: greater specificity in survey purpose (“wanted rich data”), the methods/implementation (who got to take the survey and how), and how data collected will be used; provide some data visualization (e.g., charts, infographics) and discussion on the characteristics of survey takers. In the final analysis, additional reports tailored to different audiences will be ideal (e.g., a more detailed methodological note including survey questionnaires for transparency purposes and future use by museum researchers and others).
Although we understand that this report is only at the midpoint of their data collection and no report can encompass all aspects of the process, we think that the Thanksgiving Point Institute did a great job of communicating the value of their survey to the public. Kudos on an insightful first look at their self-evaluation process.