Greetings from Champaign, IL! We are Ayesha Boyce, Maria Jimenez, and Gabriela Juarez. We are all currently pursuing our Ph.D. in evaluation at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. We have found as a multicultural evaluation team that sometimes sensitive topics such as race, class and gender are best presented through creative means. These types of presentations can be used in conjunction with formal evaluation reporting.
Lesson Learned: Some of these creative presentations can include skits, poems, music and dance. We learned about and how to facilitate discussion with stakeholders on sensitive topics using the above methods in a number of Dr. Jennifer Greene’s graduate courses. After the call for 2011 Presidential Stand Proposals we wanted to contribute our knowledge and experiences in using the alternative method of skit.
Hot Tip: Know the evaluation context. Because culture can affect program design, implementation and outcomes, all evaluators must take into account the cultural and contextual characteristics of an evaluation. Some techniques to gain a better understanding of the context include: observing the program environment, engaging program staff in discussion about program design, and informally interviewing multiple stakeholders (i.e. participants, funders, staff and community members).
Hot Tip: Know participant’s culture. Attending to the culture of a program and its participants, provides a more comprehensive understanding of program outcomes, which ultimately makes for a more useful evaluation for all stakeholders. Some techniques to gain a better understanding of a participant’s culture include: creating a diverse evaluation team where at least one person is familiar with the culture of participants and having informal conversations with participants and staff about culture and other sensitive topics.
Hot Tip: Know how to present sensitive information. Conveying participant values to stakeholders who may have their own set of differing values can be daunting. Evaluators can present participant values, particularly sensitive topics, in a creative way that fully showcases these complex dimensions. This creative and less formal presentation can diffuse tensions often associated with competing values and cultural misconceptions.
Hot Tip: Know how to write a skit. When presenting evaluation findings in a skit format:1) Begin the skit with a general setting that is similar to the evaluation’s context; 2) Create a dialogue within the skit around the pertinent evaluation findings; 3) Utilize stakeholders in the presentation (i.e. actors in the skit); and 4) Have a discussion at the end of the skit.
Frierson, H.T., Hood, S., & Hughes, G.B. (2002). Strategies that address culturally responsive evaluation. In the 2002 user-friendly handbook for project evaluation, 63-73. Arlington, Virginia, National Science Foundation.
Greene, J.C., Boyce, A.S, & Ahn, J. (2011). Value-Engaged, Educative Evaluation Guidebook. University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Created and produced withfunds from the National Science Foundation.
This contribution is from the aea365 Tip-a-Day Alerts, by and for evaluators, from the American Evaluation Association. Please consider contributing – send a note of interest to firstname.lastname@example.org. Want to learn more from this team? They’ll be presenting as part of the Evaluation 2011 Conference Program, November 2-5 in Anaheim, California.