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Blog: Color Scripting to Measure Engagement

Posted on March 30, 2016 by  in Blog

President, iEval

Last year I went to the D23 Expo in Anaheim, California. This was a conference for Disney fans everywhere. I got to attend panels where I learned past Disney secrets and upcoming Disney plans. I went purely for myself, since I love Disney everything, and I never dreamed I would learn something that could be applicable to my evaluation practice.

In a session with John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, Pete Doctor, and others from Pixar, I learned about a technique created by Ralph Eggleston (who was there too) called color scripting. Color scripting is a type of story boarding, but Ralph would change the main colors of each panel to reflect the emotion the animated film was supposed to portray at that time. It helped the Pixar team understand what was going on in the film emotionally at a quick glance, and it also made it easier to create a musical score to enhance those emotions.

Then, a few weeks later, I was sitting in a large event for a client, observing from the back of the room. I started taking notes on the engagement and energy of the audience based on who was presenting. I created some metrics on the spot including number of people on their mobile devices, number of people leaving the event, laughter, murmuring, applause, etc. I thought I would create a simple chart with a timeline of the event, highlighting who was presenting at different times, and indicating if engagement was high/medium/low and if energy was high/medium/low. I quickly realized, when analyzing the data, that engagement and energy were 100% related. If engagement was high, then energy followed shortly as being high. So, instead of charting two dimensions, I really only needed to chart one: engagement & energy combined (see definitions of engagement and energy in the graphic below). That’s when it hit me – color scripting! Okay, I’m no artist like Ralph Eggleston, so I created a simple color scheme to use.

Graphic 1

In sharing this with the clients who put on the event, they could clearly see how the audience reacted to the various elements of the event. It was helpful in determining how to improve the event in the future. This was a quick and easy visual, made in Word, to illustrate the overall reactions of the audience.

I have since also applied this to a STEM project, color scripting how the teachers in a two-week professional development workshop felt at the end of each day based on one word they shared upon exiting the workshop each day. By mapping participant feelings in the different cohorts and comparing what and how things were taught each day, this resulted in thoughtful conversations with the trainers about how they want the participants to feel and what they need to change to match reality with intention.

Graphic 2

You never know where you’re going to learn a technique or tool that could be useful in your evaluation practice and useful to the client. Be open to learning everywhere you go.

6 comments on “Blog: Color Scripting to Measure Engagement

  1. Sheila B Robinson

    What a great idea Wendy! When you asked the exiting professional development participants how they felt each day, did you give them a list of words, or did they get to generate a word describing how they felt? Were “enthusiastic,” “processing,” and “overwhelmed” your words that they could choose, or your codes/categories for words they generated? I’ve been experimenting with asking people how they felt and why vs what they learned and I find I get richer info from them when they’re asked to describe emotions (many actually share what they learn in response to the emotion question). When they’re asked what they learned, they typically echo back the title of the professional development workshop or session.

    1. Wendy Tackett

      Sheila ~ The participants were asked to describe in one word – their own word – how they felt each day. After we had the 2 weeks worth of words from each cohort, we recoded them – not knowing what the categories would be until we got into recoding. We were able to narrow them down to those three categories that were meaningful for the client.

  2. Amanda Stoel

    Great blog Wendy! So a unique and creative way to use technology to reflect data. I’m sure I will be sharing this story and starting to use this technique as well.

Comments are closed.