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Dec/12

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Cultural Competence Week: Cindy Crusto on Hindsight is 20/20 – Reflecting on Missed Opportunities, Missteps, and Successes in Attending to Culture and Context in Evaluation Practice

My name is Cindy Crusto, and I am an associate professor at Yale University School of Medicine and chair of the AEA Public Statement on Cultural Competence in Evaluation Dissemination Working Group. Today, I summarize and reflect on the Hindsight is 20/20: Reflecting on Missed Opportunities, Missteps, and Successes in Attending to Culture and Context in Evaluation Practice Think Tank, an Evaluation 2012 session organized by our working group.

Arthur Hernandez, Kari Greene, and HazelSymonette illustrated missed opportunities and successes in addressing and attending to culture/context in evaluations. This entry focuses on Kari Greene’s fictitious case study with a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) health coalition conducting a needs assessment. The coalition quickly realized there was not one “LGBTQ community” but instead many different communities. The coalition needed to identify who they wanted to serve –identity-based communities only or include individuals not identifying as LGBTQ but might have LGBTQ health needs (e.g. a man born a woman but transitioned years ago and does not identify as transgender, however, has trans-related health needs)? Would the group address LGBTQ issues statewide, including rural issues and the “gay ghetto” of urban centers? Would they gather information across the lifespan? Finally, given the diversity of individual member’s gender identity, meetings began with individuals indicating their preferred gender pronouns.

Lessons Learned: The case study highlighted several lessons:

  • We have to identify within group diversity
    • cultural similarity of the evaluator and the evaluands does not guarantee awareness of within group diversity;
    • diversity in self-definition/self-identification exists; evaluators may need to bridge generational, regional, and/or other gaps to develop within group understanding, tolerance, acceptance, and/or consensus;
    • We should move away from a cultural competence “checklist mentality” and toward cultural humility, anongoing process of self-reflection and self-critique
      • cultural competence checklists do not exist; each evaluation is different and requires attention to different cultural/contextual issues;
      • yesterday’s culturally competent evaluator is tomorrow’s incompetent evaluator; we must remain organic, dynamic, and ever-morphing, open, responsive, and hold to a reflective beginner stance;
      • We have to attend to issues of power and bias.

The Think Tank’s discussant, Donna Mertens, posed questions that can be used in your work:

  1. What dimensions of diversity are relevant in the communities in which you work?
  2. How do you identify relevant dimensions of diversity in your evaluations?
  3. What power issues might arise between subgroups within the evaluation context? How would you address them?

Rad Resources

This week, we’re diving into issues of Cultural Competence in Evaluation with AEA’s Statement on Cultural Competence in Evaluation Dissemination Working 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.

6 comments

  • Heather · December 9, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    I would recommend the book Information Dashboard Design by Stephen Few as a resource on this topic. The book addresses the research behind why some data visualization formats are better than others in a given situation, and then provides lots of great before and after examples. While the book is specific to dashboards, I have found that many of the ideas are applicable to a number of different applications.

    Reply

  • Laura Pryor · December 6, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    Thank you very much for posting a summary of the Think Tank session! I particularly appreciated the questions posed by Donna Mertens. As I reflect on these questions during my work, I would also like to add one more:

    -How can the whole evaluation team communicate and educate each other on diversity issues present in the evaluation?

    While individual self-reflection is critical, I also find value in engaging others in this same dialogue — knowing the most appropriate way to have this dialogue however, can be a challenge.

    Thanks again, and I look forward to future discussions!

    Reply

    • Karen Anderson · December 7, 2012 at 6:26 pm

      Great question Laura. Starting with something simple like sharing the Cultural Competence in Evaluation Statement (there is a booklet form available online) with the evaluation team and having discussions about the different sections.

      After the team has a general understanding of cultural competence, I believe it will make it easier, or just open the door, to bring up questions or suggestions related to diversity in evaluations that are being conducted.

      Booklet link: http://www.eval.org/aea.culutrally.competent.evaluation.statement.flyer.pdf

      -Karen

      Reply

  • Ann Emery · December 6, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    Cindy, Great post.

    This is my favorite section: “We should move away from a cultural competence ‘checklist mentality’ and toward cultural humility, an ongoing process of self-reflection and self-critique.”

    Thanks for sharing your insights! Ann

    Reply

    • Karen Anderson · December 7, 2012 at 6:31 pm

      The cultural humility section was one of my favorites also Ann.

      I was also very interested in the following section:

      “Yesterday’s culturally competent evaluator is tomorrow’s incompetent evaluator; we must remain organic, dynamic, and ever-morphing, open, responsive, and hold to a reflective beginner stance”

      It inspires me so much on this lifelong, never ending journey to cultural competence in evaluation!

      -Karen

      Reply

    • Cindy Crusto · December 9, 2012 at 9:25 pm

      Hi Ann,

      Thanks for your post. The checklist tip came from Kari Greene, one of our presenters. All three of our presenters and discussant had great insights, which are reflected in the aea365.

      Reply

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