AEA365 | A Tip-a-Day by and for Evaluators

CAT | Indigenous Peoples in Evaluation

Jeremy Braithwaite

Greetings, fellow AEAers! I’m Jeremy Braithwaite, PhD, community evaluator and AEA enthusiast. Like many of us, my evaluation training was very much discipline-based and skewed heavily toward quantitative approaches. Randomized control trials and statistical models were the gold standards of evidence. Conversations about ethics were usually confined to the pages of IRB applications. Methodologies were entirely “objective.” When I began working with Indigenous communities, I quickly learned that all the evaluation training I’d had did not prepare me for working in these contexts.

There has been a persistent disconnect between the field of evaluation and Indigenous epistemologies, philosophies, and worldviews. Federal mandates requiring science-based definitions of evidence often dismiss the cultural context of program implementation, evaluation design, and ethical issues/legal requirements of Tribal Nations. As evaluators strive to become “culturally responsive” and promote “diversity and inclusion,” it is imperative that we do not marginalize or alienate the very communities and people we serve. A transformative framework can yield more inclusive evaluation practice.

Hot Tip: Reframe the Ethics Conversation

Transformative paradigms are predicated on a code of ethics that promotes cultural respect, social justice and human rights. Therefore, in addition to considering how your evaluation methods will protect human subjects, equal attention must to paid to how your work can further social change, as well as uplift the sovereignty of individual Tribal Nations. When working with Indigenous communities, questions to consider include: How do I honor Indigenous culture and Indigenous ways of knowing and how might issues of privilege and power interfere with this process? What will the community gain by participating in the evaluation? The National Congress of American Indians’ values and principles can help in constructing these questions.

Hot Tip: Avoid Distancing

The evaluator as an objective, unbiased scientist may be the archetype of empirically-driven evaluation but can be counterproductive and potentially damaging when serving Indigenous communities. Indigenous people are their own resource experts in their communities and these voices must be engaged throughout the evaluation planning process. Evaluators must establish an interactive relationship based on authenticity and trust with Indigenous communities, as well as privilege any cultural protocols and ordinances developed by sovereign Tribal governments. Dialoguing with Tribal leadership throughout all evaluation phases is key.

Hot Tip: Engage in Reciprocity

I’ve heard Indigenous community members say “evaluators come and go, we never hear anything about the outcomes, and our problems worsen.” Knowledge sharing is the keynote of Indigenous epistemologies and concerted efforts to bring findings back to communities is a must. One way to do this is to organize community potluck events and invite Tribal leadership and the broader community to attend evaluation briefings. From personal experience, I’ve found that hosting such events is a great way to verify conclusions, contextualize “surprise” findings, and secure collective permission to proceed with next steps. And it can be great fun!

Rad Resources:

For a foundational background on transformative evaluation, read this article by Donna Mertens.
For an overview of Indigenous methodologies, review this article by Indigenous scholar Renee Pualani Louis.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Indigenous Peoples in Evaluation (IPE)  TIG week. All posts this week are contributed by members of the IPE Topical Interest Group. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

Ꭳ Ꮟ Ᏺ (OSiYo), I am Mark Parman, program evaluator for the Community and Cultural Outreach Department of the Cherokee Nation. As a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, I have a view of the American Evaluation Association attempts to bridge the gaps between those of different races and classes not common within AEA and brought into focus as Americans celebrate Thanksgiving Day. During the first AEA Dialogue on Race & Class, Dr. Melvin Hall asked, “What do we need to know and understand so that we don’t perpetuate in-equality”? When it comes to Indigenous peoples, there is quite a lot that the dominate society does not know or understand.

Hot Tips:

Coming into an Indigenous community, understand that the Americas are our land. We have lived here for as long as 30,000 years. The European invaded just over 500 years ago. Our cities were equal to those of the world. Cahokia had a population of 20,000 in AD1000 making it larger than London. Along with great cities we built knowledge of astronomy, agriculture and arts.

Between 1452 and 1493, Catholic Popes, issued decrees declaring inhabitants of Africa and the Americas, Pagans, not deserving the right to own land and could be enslaved, converted, or killed. These papal bulls are still the basis for Indian Law in the U.S.

Despite these efforts, we still exist as sovereign nations. Many were recognized by European leaders before there was a US. My Cherokee Nation entered into the family of nations with a treaty in 1721.

Diversity of Indigenous Nations most also be understood. There is no Indigenous culture and especially no “American Indian” culture in which to become competent. From the Absentee-Shawnee to the Zuni, there are a wide range of cultures, histories, languages and spiritual beliefs. The United States recognizes 567 sovereign Indigenous nations. In Canada that number is 617 First Nations. Each nation is unique and sovereign.

Cool Tricks?

The American Thanksgiving is a myth. Wampanoag warriors, in 1621, investigating gunfire at a Pilgrim village found them celebrating the harvest. As an act of peace, the Wampanoag, were fed. This was not repeated.

In 1636, a murdered man was discovered in Plymouth. Major John Mason’s soldiers killed over 400 neighboring Pequots, including the women and children, blaming them for the murder. The Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony proclaimed: “From that day forth, shall be a day of celebration and thanks giving for subduing the Pequots.” For the next 100 years on Thanksgiving Day, they honored the bloody massacre.

Lessons Learned: As you enter an Indigenous community there will be much you will not understand. Within my own Nation, there are words, customs and histories that I do not know. In these cases, ask questions. This is the human thing to do.

As the expert in evaluation, bring that knowledge. But our communities have much to offer you as well. Ask questions so that your work can be responsive to that community’s culture. Together we can sustain our communities.

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The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Indigenous Peoples in Evaluation (IPE)  TIG week. All posts this week are contributed by members of the IPE Topical Interest Group. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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Greetings! I’m Vidhya Shanker, a doctoral candidate in Evaluation Studies at the University of Minnesota. Writing during Thanksgiving week, from the birthplace of the American Indian Movement—surrounded by the largest urban Native and largest refugee communities–as the daughter of immigrants from a colonized country, I offer this exploration of culture to everyone committed to struggles for self-determination. Because I represent the settler in this colonial state, I frame it in terms of colonization, not indigeneity.

Since AEA members approved the Statement on Cultural Competence in 2011, many efforts demonstrate evaluators’ interest in cultural competence. This led me to ask:

  • When do evaluators draw from culture in ways that strengthen colonized groups’ enactment of self-determination?
  • When do evaluators deploy culture in ways that reinforce colonial dynamics?

Lesson Learned: Culture is slippery.

We often call differences between colonized groups and institutions built by/ for dominant groups “cultural.” This suggests that a difference in culture is the problem, when the problem is actually a difference in power. Dominant groups have long learned about colonized groups’ cultures to advance the colonizing project. This led me to ask:

  • Is the competency that evaluators need really cultural? Or is it critical—the competency to analyze the exercise of power?

Lesson Learned: Agency matters.

Practicing one’s culture under conditions of cultural imperialism represents a decolonizing act. When dominant groups take the cultural practices of colonized groups, culture loses its emancipatory power. Evaluators from dominant groups who incorporate decontextualized elements of colonized groups’ cultures into their evaluation practice risk engaging in cultural appropriation and reproducing the colonial relationship between the knower and the known.

For example, interdependence is sometimes fetishized as part of colonized groups’ “culture” that can be incorporated into otherwise conventional evaluations to demonstrate cultural competence. But interdependence is more than cultural: It is legal, political, economic, social, environmental, and spiritual. Understanding and treating people and nature as relatives rather than resources in all these realms would mean the demise of the settler colony in which we live.

Hot Tip:

Every evaluator can reflect on our motivations for seeking–and the impact of exercising–cultural competence. Depending on our social location, are we displacing colonized groups’ knowledge and agency?

Culture is not a static “thing” attached to people. Colonized groups have survived by individually and collectively developing the ability to change our ways of speaking, behaving, thinking, depending on the context, while maintaining ties to our communities and histories.

This ability to respond interculturally has become necessary in institutions that are led and evaluated by an increasingly professionalized class who often shares no frame of reference with participants. Institutions have long asked individuals who can respond interculturally to facilitate or defuse situations that they failed to anticipate without necessarily changing institutionalized dynamics of dominance. The ability is now considered worth learning among individuals from dominant groups. Like culture, though, cultural competence risks becoming commodified when sought by dominant groups pursuing the professional rewards that certification ushers in.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Indigenous Peoples in Evaluation (IPE)  TIG week. All posts this week are contributed by members of the IPE Topical Interest Group. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

Tena Koutou (Greetings all),

We are Fiona Cram, Director of Katoa Ltd and Editor-in-Chief of Aotearoa New Zealand’s own Evaluation Matters– He Take Tō  Te Aromatai, and Aneta Cram, Masters of Evaluation student and current Indigenous Peoples in Evaluation TIG Program Co-Chair, from Aotearoa New Zealand. We are both affiliated with Ngāti Pāhauwera and Ngāti Kahungunu iwi (tribes) on the east coast of the North Island.

During Thanksgiving week, we would like to extend greetings and aroha (love) to our Native relations in the United States of America and around the globe.

Thinking about the importance of research and evaluation as a space of development and strength for global indigenous peoples, we would like to highlight a few key journals and recent articles to support your work.

Hot Tip:

Did you know that AEA have two evaluation journals that publish quarterly? As members of AEA, you get free online access to past and current journal articles for New Directions for Evaluation and The American Journal of Evaluation.

Rad Resource # 1: New Directions for Evaluation

Check out:

Discusses building evaluation capacity in complex environments. Looks at evaluation in China, India and Chile.

Joan La France explores cultural competency when working in “Indian Country.”

Rad Resource # 2: American Journal of Evaluation

Check out:

Alaska Native program evaluators discuss their journey of developing a vision for building evaluator capacity in their communities and cross-cultural collaboration that led to the development of this shared vision.

Hot Tip:

Both Aotearoa New Zealand Evaluation Association (ANZEA) and the Canadian Evaluation Association are publishing on evaluation and their evaluation journals are open-access.

Rad Resource # 3: Evaluation Matters — He Take T? Te Aromatawai.

Aoteroa New Zealand Evaluation Association’s evaluation journal.

Check out:

This article discusses the tensions between communities and evaluators when indigenous evaluators accept government provider contracts to work in an indigenous space in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Rad Resource #4: The Canadian Journal of Program Evaluation

Check out:

Hot Tip:

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Indigenous Peoples in Evaluation (IPE)  TIG week. All posts this week are contributed by members of the IPE Topical Interest Group. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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Nicole Bowman

Koolamalsi Njoosuk wuk Elànkumàkik (Warm Greetings Colleagues/Relatives). I’m Nicole Bowman (Mohican/Lunaape) and the current AEA IPE TIG Chair, Member of the AEA International Work Group (IWG) Team, and Task Force Member of the EvalIndigenous Network. Today’s blog highlights some of the contributions by Indigenous people that happen year-round. Let’s celebrate, appreciate, and commemorate during this Colonial/Federal holiday the many ways Indigenous people are impacting the field of evaluation!

  • IPE TIG on AEA’s Diversity Task Force:

The seven-member AEA Diversity Task Force on Member Engagement, Diversity, and Leadership Development began in January 2017. Chaired by Drs. Robin Miller and Melvin Hall, IPE TIG is represented by Dr. Nicole Bowman.

  • IPE TIG on EvalPartners’ Global Initiative:

The third EvalPartners Global Forum was held in Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic from April 26-28, 2017.  Drs. Bowman, Cram, and Bremner (amongst others) are all part of the EvalIndigenous Task Force.  Dr. Bowman is also a member of AEA’s International Work Group.  EvalIndigenous testimonies more can be seen on the EvalPartner’s You Tube channel.

  • IPE TIG through CREA:

IPE TIG was well represented at the 4th International Culturally Relevant Assessment and Evaluation Conference September 27-29, 2017 in Chicago IL.  Pre-conference and in conference sessions, keynotes, and panelists on the AEA Diversity Dialog hosted by CREA all included IPE TIG leadership or members.  Drs. Bowman, Cram, LaFrance, Nelson-Barber, Tibbets, and Wehipeihana (all IPE TIG members) are also CREA Research Affiliates.

Hot Tip:

EvalIndigenous and IPE TIG contributions, resources, and activities are always shared via our website and social media.

Cool Trick:

Become an IPE TIG member (open to anyone) and get our newsletter and so much more!

Lesson Learned:

Being Indigenous has multiple and complex cultural, language, social, and governance meanings depending on who you ask and the community context from where on Mother Earth you are from as an Indigenous person.  Through the global membership and participation of IPE TIG and EvalIndigenous there is always growth, developing new relationships, and a deepening appreciation for our vast diversity.

Rad Resources:

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Indigenous Peoples in Evaluation (IPE)  TIG week. All posts this week are contributed by members of the IPE Topical Interest Group. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

No tags

Erica Roberts

Hello and welcome to the Indigenous Peoples in Evaluation (IPE) TIG Week (November 19-24)! I am Erica Blue Roberts, a member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, IPE TIG Program Chair, and AEA GEDI alumnus. And I’m Nicole Bowman (Mohican/Lunaape) the IPE TIG Chair. As we approach the Colonial celebration and Federal holiday of Thanksgiving, let us reflect on, redefine our understandings, and redirect our behaviors regarding the Original inhabitants of Turtle Island (North America) and Kukuna Auhy (Mother Earth). Together we can move from cultural appropriation and romanticized notions of the first Thanksgiving, to a cultural appreciation for the ongoing contributions by Indigenous people that isn’t limited by a holiday or season.

The IPE TIG was established in 2006 to give voice and recognition to the Indigenous members of the American Evaluation Association (AEA) and begin to infuse Indigenous evaluation practices into more mainstream evaluation. Indigenous evaluation approaches were developed as culturally-responsive ways of evaluating programs in Indigenous communities. Indigenous evaluation often values and incorporates Indigenous knowledge, recognizes the negative history of evaluation imposed on many Indigenous communities, and respects tribal and data sovereignty. For more information about Indigenous evaluation, look to the work of IPE TIG Founder – Joan France, IPE TIG Founder – Fiona Cram, IPE TIG Chair – Nicky Bowman, and IPE TIG Program Chair – Erica Roberts.

The IPE TIG strives to achieve the following goals to improve evaluation practices and methods:

  • Developing and disseminating knowledge that helps assure that evaluations in which Indigenous people are among the major stakeholders are culturally responsive and respectful of their interests and rights.
  • Creating a venue for Indigenous evaluators and others working in Indigenous contexts to participate in discourse about evaluation models and methods that support Indigenous values, practices, and ways of knowing.
  • Mentoring and emerging evaluators interested in evaluation in various Indigenous contexts.

This week you will get a chance to read about a variety of Indigenous evaluation topics from the TIG Leadership and its members. We chose to blog this week as it is the week of the Thanksgiving holiday, a time when many misconceptions about American Indians and Alaska Natives are shared. We hope that by providing you with an overview of Indigenous evaluation, you may be inspired to look into other ways that Indigenous knowledge can be integrated into mainstream practices and understandings.

Rad Resources:

To learn more about the IPE TIG, please visit our website., become a member, and check us out on Facebook and Twitter.

No More Pranks-Giving:  How the Evaluation Community Can Start Rebuilding Relations with Indigenous Communities

Dr. Adrienne Keene (Cherokee) Native Appropriations website and blog is an interactive forum for discussing representations and contributions of Native peoples.

Rethinking Schools Blog Archives on “Rethinking Thanksgiving:  Myths and Misgivings

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Indigenous Peoples in Evaluation (IPE) TIG week. All posts this week are contributed by members of the IPE Topical Interest Group. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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Koolamalsi njoos (Hello Colleagues/Friends).  I’m Nicole Bowman (Mohican/Lunaape) a culturally responsive (CR) and Indigenous Evaluator (CRIE) at the WI Center for Education Research (WEC and LEAD Center) and President/Evaluator at Bowman Performance Consulting, all located in Wisconsin.

In 1905, the President of UW, Charles Van Hise, provided the foundation for what has become fundamental to how I practice evaluation – The Wisconsin Idea:

“The university is an institution devoted to the advancement and dissemination of knowledge…in service and the improvement of the social and economic conditions of the masses…until the beneficent influence of the University reaches every family of the state” (p.1 and p.5).

My work as an Indigenous and culturally responsive evaluator exemplifies the WI Idea in action.  Through valuing, supporting, and resourcing culturally responsive and Indigenous theories, methods, and activities, I’m able to not only build organizational and UW’s capacity to “keep pace” (p. 3) in these areas but am empowered to be “in service” to others and not “in the interest of or for the professors” (i.e. self-serving) but rather as a “tool in service to the state…so the university is better fit to serve the state and nation” (p.4 and p.5).  My particular culturally responsive and Indigenous evaluation, policy, and governance expertise has brought university and Tribal governments together through contracted training and technical assistance evaluation work; has developed new partnerships with state, national, and Tribal agencies (public, private, and nonprofit) who are subject matter leaders in CR research and evaluation; and extended our collaborative CR and CRIE through AJE and NDE publications, AEA and CREA pre-conference trainings and in-conference presentations, and representation nationally and internationally via EvalPartners (EvalIndigenous). We’re not only living the WI Idea…we are extending it beyond mental, philosophical, and geographic boarders to include the original Indigenous community members as we work at the community level by and for some of the most underrepresented voices on the planet.
Rad Resources: 

During this week, you will read about how others practice the WI Idea. As evaluators, we play an integral role in working within and throughout local communities and statewide agencies. Daily, we influence policies, programs and practices that can impact the most vulnerable of populations and communities. Practicing the WI Idea bears much responsibility, humility, and humanity.  We need to be constant and vigilant teachers and learners.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating The Wisconsin Idea in Action Week coordinated by the LEAD Center. The LEAD (Learning through Evaluation, Adaptation, and Dissemination) Center is housed within the Wisconsin Center for Education Research (WCER) at the School of EducationUniversity of Wisconsin-Madison and advances the quality of teaching and learning by evaluating the effectiveness and impact of educational innovations, policies, and practices within higher education. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from student and adult evaluators living in and practicing evaluation from the state of WIDo you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

Hi! We are Morgan J Curtis (independent consultant) and Strong Oak Lafebvre (executive director of Visioning BEAR Circle Intertribal Coalition).  Along with Patrick Lemmon (independent consultant), we have the good fortune of serving as the evaluation team for the Walking in Balance (WIB) initiative.

WIB is an innovative approach to violence prevention that focuses on 12 important indigenous values that encourage better harmony with other people and the land. The primary component of WIB is a 13-session curriculum that is built on a Circle Process and that, with some adaptations, can be focused on different populations. The Circle Process involves storytelling and sharing by all participants, including the Circle Keeper who serves to move the conversation forward. A teaching team of four, seated in the four directions, diminishes the role of a single expert and promotes Circle members talking with each other rather than to the Circle Keeper.

Lessons Learned: This program presents many exciting evaluation opportunities and challenges. One of the challenges is ensuring that the evaluation is both culturally responsive and methodologically sound. As part of this challenge, all members of the evaluation team are located in different cities and the evaluation consultants have all been white folks. This process has included much trial and error in our collaborative process and in the evaluation methodologies themselves. The team wanted to design an evaluation that aligned with the program’s principles and also integrated into the circle process as seamlessly as possible. We currently have a pre and post question for each session; participants write their answers on notecards and share aloud with the circle, which flows well with the storytelling focus of the circles.  Additional questions at the beginning and end of the Circle invite participants to share aloud how each session transformed them and ways continued engagement in the Circle impacts their lives. We capture responses from all parties to track how the Circle Process transforms both the teaching team and participants.  The VBCIC teaching team loves the seamless nature of the evaluation process and finds that checking in about what happens between sessions captures changes in behavior based on learning directly linked to Circle teachings.

Hot Tip: Listening plays a key role in both the Circle Process itself and in developing the evaluation. We have established a process of following the lead of the Visioning BEAR team both by listening intently to their struggles and hopes and also by offering options for how to tweak the evaluation. They move forward with what feels right to them and report back to us. Then, we keep tweaking. We are working to make the data analysis and interpretation processes more collaborative as we move forward, too.

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org . aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

My name is Roxann Lamar and I work in research and evaluation at the Center for Human Development, University of Alaska Anchorage. Our local AEA chapter, the Alaska Evaluation Network (AKEN) hosted a discussion on cultural competence, particularly relevant toNative cultures. About 19% of Alaskans have all or partial Native heritage.

The AEA’s statement on cultural competence in evaluation is comprehensive, covering a multitude of issues involved in working together in a diverse world. What is presented here is a perspective to think about – how people might respond to thelanguage we choose to use– not that any languageis universally right or wrong.

Lesson Learned: Our event was called, “Cultural Competence in Evaluation.” Our panel of cross-cultural experts included persons of DegXit’an Athabascan, Gwich’in Athabascan, Navajo, and non-Native heritage. All had a lifetime of personal and professional experience with cultures indigenous to Alaska. They reminded usat the startthat the words we use are important and informed us they found the term “cultural competence” to be distasteful. Theyhighly encouraged us to use the term “cultural humility” and noted it is not a new idea.They also suggested“cultural relevance” as an acceptable alternative that makes more sense in some contexts.

Our panelists explained the problem with“competence”is that it implies we will reach a point where we can say,“We areculturally competent.”That is what is inferredwhen people go to a workshop for a certain number of hoursand earn a certificate in cultural competence.Our panelists pointed out that these trainings oftendo more harm than good. For example, focusing on characteristics of specific cultures inadvertently encourages stereotyping.The panel’s audience was intrigued, and discussions among colleagues continued long after the event.

Hot Tip: In many places or contexts, a term like “cultural humility” is a respectful choice. Without a lot of explanation it conveys a humble posture of learning about self and others. It implies openness, equity, and flexibility in working with anyone.

Rad Resource: With a little looking around, I found Cultural Humility: People, Principles, & Practices. This is a 30-minute, 4-part documentary by Vivian Chávez (2012). It is focused on relationships between physicians and patients, but the principles can beappliedin other applications.

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org .aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

Greetings, I am June Gothberg, incoming Director of the Michigan Transition Outcomes Project and past co-chair of the Disabilities and Other Vulnerable Populations topical interest group at AEA.  I hope you’ve enjoyed a great week of information specific to projects involving these populations.  As a wrap up I thought I’d end with broad information on involving vulnerable populations in your evaluation and research projects.

Lessons Learned: Definition of “vulnerable population”

  • The TIGs big ah-ha.  When I came in as TIG co-chair, I conducted a content analysis of the presentations of our TIG for the past 25 years.  We had a big ah-ha when we realized what and who is identified as “vulnerable populations”.  The list included:
    • Abused
    • Abusers
    • Chronically ill
    • Culturally different
    • Economically disadvantaged
    • Educationally disadvantaged
    • Elderly
    • Foster care
    • Homeless
    • Illiterate
    • Indigenous
    • Mentally ill
    • Migrants
    • Minorities
    • People with disabilities
    • Prisoners
    • Second language
    • Veterans – “wounded warriors”
  • Determining vulnerability.  The University of South Florida provides the following to determine vulnerability in research:
    • Any individual that due to conditions, either acute or chronic, who has his/her ability to make fully informed decisions for him/herself diminished can be considered vulnerable.
    • Any population that due to circumstances, may be vulnerable to coercion or undue influence to participate in research projects.

vulnerable

Hot Tips:  Considerations for including vulnerable populations.

  • Procedures.  Use procedures to protect and honor participant rights.
  • Protection.  Use procedures to minimize the possibility of participant coercion or undue influence.
  • Accommodation.  Prior to start, make sure to determine and disseminate how participants will be accommodated in regards to recruitment, informed consent, protocols and questions asked, retention, and research procedures including those with literacy, communication, and second language needs.
  • Risk.  Minimize any unnecessary risk to participation.

Hot Tips:  When your study is targeted at vulnerable populations.

  • Use members of targeted group to recruit and retain subjects.
  • Collaborate with community programs and gatekeepers to share resources and information.
  • Know the formal and informal community.
  • Examine cultural beliefs, norms, and values.
  • Disseminate materials and results in an appropriate manner for the participant population.

Rad Resources:

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating the Disabilities and Other Vulnerable Populations TIG (DOVP) Week. The contributions all week come from DOVP members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluator.

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