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

CAT | Latino/a Responsive Evaluation Discourse

Greetings! I am María Fernanda Rodrigo and I am a Senior Associate evaluator at the Office of Evaluation and Oversight at the Inter-American Development Bank, where my research focuses on productive sectors.

Have you ever found zero effects in your impact evaluation? After incorporating many specifications, the data is clear: your program has no effect whatsoever. You start thinking: what went wrong in the surveys? Should I try to work other ideas? Maybe I can find lessons learned from this failure…

This is the case from a recent evaluation of an agricultural program in Paraguay that promoted environmentally sustainable practices and technologies in the most common crops of the region. The analysis was done five years after the program was implemented, and preliminary analysis suggested that, although practices were still being implemented, there was no impact on productivity nor income. How disappointing is this in a time when the world is trying to be more sustainable?

However, “why were these farmers still using the technologies from the program if we were not detecting any -tangible- benefit out of it?”

What were we overlooking, perhaps spillover effects? Since the technologies were not expensive, it was likely that non-direct beneficiaries also adopted these practices after realizing the benefits from direct beneficiaries. But we couldn´t estimate them with no information from individual’s networks, and those surveys are expensive. Back to our data, finally some good luck: our surveys had included geospatial information of each farmer.

So, we assumed that control farmers at a certain distance or more from a direct beneficiary were clean controls. Then we estimated the effect of the program by comparing productivity outcomes from clean controls and direct beneficiaries. Our findings indicate now that the program increased productivity by at least 45%, this effect being higher for those with more time in the program.

map of areas control, treated, indirectly, treated

The technologies promoted by the program are compatible with the environment and natural resources. No forested lands were dismantled, nor natural forests replaced with intensive crops during its implementation. This paper (forthcoming) points out how the promotion of environmental technologies can be successful among small producers when incentives are aligned. Not only they must be economically viable, but also the producer needs to be involved in the technology choice, and the government aware of the adequacy of inputs and technical assistance.

Lesson Learned:

One shouldn´t wait to have a zero-impact program to analyze possible spillover effects. Many programs end up affecting individuals that are not direct beneficiaries (whether this effect is intended or not). Hence, the design of an evaluation should understand the mechanisms in which these effects are possible not only to include controls that are “pure” (not affected indirectly by the program) in the survey design, but also to measure the transmission effect also relevant for policymaking.

 

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Latina/o Responsive Evaluation Discourse TIG Week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from LA RED Topical Interest Group 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 evaluators.

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I’m Rasec Niembro, an evaluator with over 6 years’ experience in Latin America, currently working as a consultant at the Inter-American Development Bank’s Office of Evaluation and Oversight.

In evaluation, we know that what cannot be measured cannot be improved. As practitioners, we share the responsibility not only in terms of producing objective information but also promoting the generation of useful and reliable data. This kind of concern is even more relevant in Latin America given highly unequal socioeconomic conditions.

Lesson Learned:

Recently, I worked in the Evaluation of the IDB’s Support for Gender and Diversity and was able to identify that regionally comparable statistics on women and indigenous outcomes remain scarce in crucial areas, impeding efforts to close gender and ethnic inequalities as well as monitor and evaluate numerous indicators and results. For example, Mexico is considered by the World Bank an upper middle-income country, however, using disaggregated data it’s possible to identify massive differences among populations, this variance implies that the Human Development Index in a municipality in Mexico City equals more than double than an indigenous municipality in Oaxaca. This distance is the same between the Netherlands and South Sudan, located in 4th and 181 of the world and shows that in some areas a poverty gap prevails ten times more among indigenous women compared to non-indigenous men. Without this information it would be impossible to design, implement and evaluate an efficient program targeted to reduce poverty.

Some challenges with disaggregated data that persist in Latin America are: lack of awareness of the value or importance of sex and ethnic disaggregated data, limited collection due to systems not set up to capture data at the individual level and, probably most noteworthy is that even if some data was available, it lacked quality or was simply erroneous. Despite numerous challenges, the evaluation also generated a variety of solutions and alternative research methods.

Cool Trick:

The specific data disaggregation needs at the country level must be taken into account at project planning and design stages. Where standard sample design fails to produce sufficient representation of specific populations of interest, alternate sampling and data collection approaches should be considered. These methodologies may include oversampling (increasing the number of units within an established sample design to increase the likelihood of populations of interest being included), targeted sampling (using existing information in census data or administrative records about the geographic distribution of the population of interest) or comparative surveys of target population groups with other population groups living in the same areas.

Implications for Evaluators

Collecting disaggregated data may imply more time and costs, even other complications because it can include aspects of biology, identity, and culture, among other factors. However, evaluators can be a vital force to promote the use and generation of reliable and updated disaggregated data. We must remember that using disaggregated data to evaluate interventions is essential to identify more accurate results and to make visible vulnerable populations because if they are seen and understood, they are more likely to be located at the center of policymaking and therefore evaluation.

 

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Latina/o Responsive Evaluation Discourse TIG Week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from LA RED Topical Interest Group 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 evaluators.

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My name is Susana Morales and I am the Co-Founder of Communities in Collaboration | Comunidades en Colaboración. I am also a member of La Red TIG, YFE TIG, and the IC TIG and locally support the San Francisco Bay Area Evaluators and Applied Researchers group. During this short piece, I want to discuss working with culturally-driven organizations that are doing evaluations for the first time.

Recently, we started working with two organizations that serve Latino populations around issues of mental health. The organizations are full of well-intended mental health providers and whole-hearted community health care workers. They provide therapy, connect clients to other community providers, support them in navigating other pressing issues such as immigration, housing, and economic instability. Additionally, they are part of state evaluation working towards understanding how cultura es salud, how culture is health. They have to balance between being in the front lines of life and death concerns and having to ask their clients to complete consent forms and surveys.

Lesson Learned: How do you work with organizations that are not ready for an evaluation and have to do it? Earn their trust. They need to trust that you will take care of them and walk next to them as they figure things out. I have learned that earning trust allows me to be a better evaluator, a better critic when needed, even a better data enforcer even when I must.

Hot Tips: Here are some tips on how to develop a positive trusting relationship.

  1. Cree en tu corazoncito. Evaluate with your heart. Many organizations do work of the heart and care deeply about the communities they serve. When you show up as the evaluator, also let your heart show up. Listen with empathy.
  2. No nomas vallas a las fiestas. Show up. The communities which we serve face many challenges and the organizations for which we work are always short-staffed. We not only show up when for data collection, we show up when they have community events, need extra volunteers, even for parties.
  3. Celebra. Celebrate the small wins. Embarking on an evaluation for the first time can be daunting and confusing. The small wins matter.
  4. Yes, food. My mamá taught me to always bring something to share when I am invited to someone’s house. Pan dulce for a morning meeting if appropriate, fruit for an afternoon meeting.
  5. Siempre Always greet. No matter how often you see your clients, always greet them as if you haven’t seen them in years. I’m a hugger, and, yes, I do ask for permission but I always greet people with authentic enthusiasm.

And remember las palabras se las lleva el viento make your actions count.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Latina/o Responsive Evaluation Discourse TIG Week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from LA RED Topical Interest Group 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 evaluators.

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This is Asma Ali, of AA & Associates, and Grisel Robles-Schrader, of Northwestern University, from Chicago. Along with many colleagues, we are core members of the Latinx Responsive Evaluation Discourse (LaRED) Topical Interest Group. As members of LaRED, we are often asked whether the group is only for Latinx evaluators. By design, LaRED is inclusive of both Latinx evaluators and those who are interested in being “allies” for Latinx communities. We have been thinking about what this means as our TIG has evolved.

The Community Toolbox defines an ally as “a person who supports, empowers, or stands up for another person or a group.”  Although we each bring different perspectives and experiences to our work as a 1st generation Latina and a first generation Indian-American women, our evaluation work has called us to be “allies” alongside diverse communities through our AEA efforts.

AEA TIGs offer unique opportunities for evaluators to develop alliances across various intersectional dimensions, such as communities of shared characteristics or evaluation approaches. Many people feel that the word “ally” has lost its meaning because it is overused.  For us, being an evaluation ally is entwined with our everyday professional and personal roles. Being an ally requires careful consideration of our own role(s) in relationship to the goals and advancement of diverse community groups. As we reflect on our ally role, we have compiled some tips for active engagement as an evaluation ally:

Hot Tips: Approaches & Reflections in Your Allyship Journey 

Seek Out Opportunities to Learn. Take time to learn about different cultures, communities and histories. Evaluators often have the opportunity to connect with people that have different experiences from their own. Embracing learning from others, examining our own biases, and reflecting on the privileges we bring to different spaces is often part of an evaluator’s role. Learn more here.

Engage Diverse Perspectives. Engage diverse stakeholders in all phases of evaluation. Stakeholders provide valuable insights that can inform the process and results. They can champion evaluation efforts and provide feedback on the feasibility and relevance of evaluation recommendations. Learn more here.

Use Your Expertise. As an ally, you may be called to actively advocate for issues that are important to the community.  This may done through your evaluation work or other roles with stakeholders. Learn more here.

Handle Missteps. Inevitably when working with diverse groups, missteps and misunderstandings are likely to occur. Staying engaged, being open to feedback, asking questions, and learning together are critical in evaluation ally work. For more resources click here.

Are there evaluation experiences where you have served as an ally to another group? What was your role? What did you learn?

 

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Latina/o Responsive Evaluation Discourse TIG Week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from LA RED Topical Interest Group 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 evaluators.

Hello, we are evaluators, researchers and practitioners who work alongside Latinx communities in Austin, TX. Josephine V. Serrata, Ph.D. is an independent evaluation consultant and licensed psychologist, Gabriela Hurtado Alvarado, Ph.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist and research program manager at the University of Texas at Austin, and Laurie Cook Heffron, Ph.D. is a licensed social worker and professor at St. Edward’s University. This post focuses on a recent project involving immigrant Latina women who experienced family detention while seeking asylum at the US border.

As promoters of culturally relevant research and evaluation, we strongly feel that evaluators who are working within Latinx communities must develop an understanding of the multiple ways that systemic trauma (e.g., environments and organizations that give rise to trauma and sustain it) impacts Latinx communities collectively. We would like to share some lessons learned from our recent project as an example of the intersecting traumas that Latinx communities may face.

Lesson Learned #1: Asylum Seekers Are Often Fleeing Severe Violence and Trauma. For example, violence in the Northern Triangle and Mexico has increased significantly in the past few years. These areas have often been dominated by criminal groups causing increases in the rates of gender-based violence, extortion, gang violence, and human trafficking.  These perilous circumstances push people to flee their countries of origin to pursue safety. Evaluators should consider what having this experience may mean when working with these populations.

Lesson Learned #2: Our Systems are Replicating Violence and Trauma. Individuals that have been detained describe that immigration detention centers in the U.S. are restrictive environments where they struggle to get their needs met. Previously detained women noted that physical and mental health services are inadequate. Asylum seekers also have to describe their experiences of trauma during a credible fear interview, which can exacerbate stress and be retraumatizing.

Lesson Learned #3: The Impact of Systemic Trauma is Far Reaching. The current political climate has created stressful and unsafe circumstances for Latinos living in the U.S. In fact, hate crimes against Latinos have increased significantly since 2014. This does not only include immigrants, but also permanent residents and U.S. citizens. Although researchers have found that Latinos are now experiencing more anxiety, PTSD, as well as other emotional and behavioral health symptoms, it is also important to remember the resiliency and strength of the Latinx community as they actively resist systemic oppression.

Rad Resources:

This document shares more information about understanding trauma and trauma-informed care through a Latinx lens.

This measure is a good starting point for evaluators who are evaluating trauma-informed practice.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Latina/o Responsive Evaluation Discourse TIG Week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from LA RED Topical Interest Group 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 evaluators.

 

¡Saludos! We are Lisa Aponte-Soto, Grisel M. Robles-Schrader, and Arthur Hernandez co-chairs of the Latinx Responsive Evaluation Discourse Network or La RED TIG. Lisa Aponte-Soto, PhD, MHA serves as Associate Director of Community Engaged Research at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Grisel Robles-Schrader, MPA is the Research Portfolio Manager, Center for Community Health and MPH Field Experience Director, Programs in Public Health at Northwestern University. Arthur Hernandez is a professor at the University of Incarnate Word.

This week La RED highlights ways to advance evaluation for and with Latinx communities. As we reflect on the array of topics, we want to emphasize the heterogeneity of the Latinx population and the importance of not generalizing across subgroups, nationalities, or geographic areas. Latinx are vastly diverse with distinct experiences, values, and linguistic differences. Evaluators need to tend to each community based on its ethnic identity and geographic location.  This is not solely a social justice issue, though that is an extremely important consideration to be sure.  It is a matter of technical rigor and ensuring the processes, outcomes, interpretations and implications of evaluation are sound, reasonable and respectful – all ethical requirements of the conduct of any evaluation.

The following tips extract from our experiences working with Latinx communities to conduct evaluation and assessments.

Hot Tips:

  1. Evaluation Approach – Adapting a participatory approach that is inclusive of the perspective of Latinx can be beneficial in countering historical experiences with misuse and abuse of personal and health information that may place undue physical harm or in some cases jeopardize status in the U.S. Inclusivity will help frame the evaluation instruments and tools and build trust.
  2. Terminology – La RED prefer to use Latinx an ethnic identifier because it is a gender-neutral term to reference individuals of Latin American descent. However, it is necessary to acknowledge that there is variability in how the Latinx community identifies. Some members identify as Latinos, Latinas, or Hispanics, while others will prefer their nationality. Evaluators should become familiar with the communities they are serving and tailor instruments accordingly.
  3. Location – Where the evaluation is conducted matters. Evaluators should situate data collection within the Latinx community being served and within spaces that community members feel most comfortable.
  4. Self Reflection – Any sound evaluation practice requires the evaluator carefully consider her/his own motives, experiences, perspectives, expectations, and readiness to engage in the work throughout the process. Evaluation concerns the assessment of value which can often be judged differently depending on perspective.

Rad Resources:

The CDC’s Healthy Communities Program developed Building Our Understanding: Culture Insights Communicating with Hispanic/Latinos, a resource that includes information on Latinx culture and strategies for communicating with Latinx communities.

LA RED is a space for evaluators working collaboratively with/for Latina/o communities regardless of their personal racial-ethnic background. To join the discourse, please email us at lared.tig@gmail.com.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Latina/o Responsive Evaluation Discourse TIG Week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from LA RED Topical Interest Group 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 evaluators.

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Hello! ¡Saludos! I’m Lisa Aponte-Soto, an AEA GEDI alumna, Latinx Responsive Evaluation Discourse (La RED) TIG chair, and CEA local affiliate member. I currently serve as Associate Director of Community Engaged Research at the University of Illinois at Chicago. La RED and CEA foster communities of practice to exchange ideas and enhance collective learning around evaluation practices. Specifically, La RED engages evaluators working to support multiple Latinx-specific contexts through culturally responsive evaluation practices, evaluation capacity building, and evaluation professional development. Similarly, CEA provides evaluators and students career development activities.

Both La RED and CEA value partnerships that will increase membership networking and skill-building opportunities. Namely, members of La RED and CEA in the Chicagoland area have collaborated with the Latina Researchers Network (LRN) to maximize and share professional resources for Latinx researchers and evaluators in the Midwest and nationally. Founded by Dr. Silvia Mazzula at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, the LRN offers ongoing mentorship and career development resources to meet the diverse needs of Latinx professionals. The conceptual framing of the LRN can be found here. Since its inception in 2012, the LRN has provided leadership, research, and evaluation training to over 3000 scholars, researchers, evaluators, academic leaders, and junior investigators.

Most recently, Chicagoland members embarked in a yearlong LRN initiative along with members in Texas to regionalize the network. La RED and CEA members leading the planning steering committee include Leah C. Neubauer, Grisel Robles-Schrader, Diana Lemos, and myself. Opportunities will now be available to establish local LRN chapters and affiliates. Efforts also culminated in an LRN Chicago Chapter kick-off event in May 2018, Latina Women in Academia: Challenges and Strategies for Success featuring keynote speaker Dr. Aida Giachello, a social hour, and World Café discussions to gauge membership interests and needs.

Lessons Learned:

From the World Café discourse, we found that Latinx professionals are seeking more opportunities to:

  1. Network internationally
  2. Engage in writing workshops
  3. Receive methodological skill-based training
  4. Participate in work-life balance activities
  5. Collaborate with interdisciplinary professional organizations and associations

Hot Tip: The LRN will be hosting its fourth biennial Latina Researchers Conference August 23-25 at John Jay College in New York, New York. Register here.

Rad Resources:

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Chicagoland Evaluation Association (CEA) Affiliate Week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from CEA 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 evaluators.

 

My name is Wanda Casillas, and I am an evaluator with Deloitte Consulting, LLC. I am a member of LA RED, the MIE TIG, and an alum of AEA’s GEDI Program. I have been privileged to be under the care of AEA’s community since I was born into the evaluation world. I have been mentored, nurtured and cared for by prominent, brilliant professionals who have helped me learn to navigate scholarship and the professional world, particularly as a woman of color.

In that spirit, I place great value on the role of mentorship for evaluators, regardless of their tenure or experience, who are learning to navigate culturally-situated programs- let’s say mindfully and deliberately culturally-situated, since all programs are culturally-situated to some extent. For evaluators of color, I want to draw attention to the idea that “excellence” for us is characterized not only by typical professional standards, but also by the addition of 1) advocacy and the promotion of social justice in our communities and by 2) actively seeking to work in our communities.

With this blog, I hope to encourage potential mentors to think about what these added demands mean for the training and development of evaluators of color. I often find myself questioning if this is a double-standard, and how I want to deal with it in my mentoring relationships.

Hot Tips:

Be patient.   We are asking evaluators of color to have two heads: the mainstream professional head that understands excellence and scholarship in evaluation and the head that focuses on community advocacy and challenges injustices. This isn’t an expectation to which everyone is held. Professionals new to this expectation will waver, question, and find his/her own way on his/her own time. Respect the fluidity and dynamism of growth through complex development that may sometimes appear as resistance or “giving up”.

Withhold judgement. Are we feeding into a double-standard that in its own way is a prejudice? I am reminded of president Obama. The country waited in anticipation and fear of all the social justice policies unduly expected of him merely because he was African American. Somehow, his ethnic identity was supposed to give him super powers to trump (a little pun intended) all social ills. Well, not every evaluator of color will wear both heads, and we shouldn’t expect them to. Strong, well-trained professionals and scholars of color are an asset to our profession even if they choose not work in advocacy and social justice.  It is still our duty to mentor and hone their skills and respect their professional choices. Well-trained people will do “good work”, and that will have far-reaching benefits for many.

Rad Resources: Lewis, K.R. (2014). Five mentor mistakes to avoid. Fortune Magazine.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Latina/o Responsive Evaluation Discourse TIG Week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from LA RED Topical Interest Group 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 evaluators.

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My name is Art Hernandez, Visiting Professor at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas.

I was an AEA MSI Fellow early on and have served as the Director for several cohorts – most recently this past year. I serve and have served as evaluator and teacher of evaluation and am very interested in the processes of cultural responsiveness in practice especially in regard to measurement and assessment. As one of the early AEA members from a Latino background, I have been positioned to offer my perspective to others on all aspects of Evaluation and professional practice.

Lesson Learned:

In my case, the relationships I have established and from which I have derived or offered insight, etc., resulted from “natural relationships” formed by my association with those Latinas/os who originally sought me out.  It is also clear to me that whatever benefit may have resulted to others, I certainly benefited.

It was these naturally occurring relationships which provided the means to advance the cause of representation and leadership for Latinas/os.  Clearly, because these relationships were organic, there was time to develop a foundation of trust- that any implied commitment of support could be trusted, that the motivation to be of support, to advance and advocate was genuine and time to develop a means of communication which reflected shared values predicated on a mutual desire to continue the relationship (friendship) for the long term.

Hot Tips: 

  • Interested and invested individuals and groups can make a difference in defining and shaping the “success” of our peers.
  • For underrepresented individuals, it is important to seek out interested, invested others even if they provide no more than social support and evidence that full participation is possible.
  • For those already within the “system” it is important to remember that even if you take no deliberate action, your presence and attitude toward newcomers conveys a great deal about the nature of the organization and the likelihood of success.
  • Numbers matter. Increasing the representativeness of constituent groups so that their “voice” can exercise influence should be a priority.
  • Diversity is of value to organizations which can benefit from a greater reach, improved retention and performance, increased innovation, social relevance and improved morale and sense of safety for those from underrepresented groups.
  • Informal mentoring is as valuable as formal mentoring.
  • Social and professional networks are important contributors to individual and organizational success.
  • Mentors, especially those from the majority who serve protégés from minority cultural backgrounds, should be sensitive to comments and attitudes of others and seek to advocate and advantage their protégés in the face of suspected prejudice or bias.
  • Mentors should be prepared to learn as well as to teach.
  • Mentors should expect, encourage and support protégés to achieve success – even that surpassing their own.
  • Finally, every field of endeavor benefits from efforts to embrace and exercise cultural responsive practice. The success of these efforts will be determined in no small way by the inclusion of experts who have firsthand, natural experience and knowledge of other cultural identities.

Rad Resource:

Norman, R.L. (2011). Five Best Practices for Cross-Cultural Mentoring in Organizations

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Latina/o Responsive Evaluation Discourse TIG Week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from LA RED Topical Interest Group 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 evaluators.

¡Hola!/Hello! My name is Norma Martínez-Rubin and I am a bilingual health educator and program evaluator. I’ve had the privilege of being considered a liaison by program administrators interested in engaging their Latino/a, Spanish-speaking constituencies for program development and/or improvement. By designing linguistically appropriate surveys and focus groups on collaborative projects, my evaluation colleagues and I have come to better understand health related knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors of monolingual, low-income Spanish speakers. At least one of us has served to narrow the language gap between program designers and their target populations. But it’s been all of us who’ve recognized the value of incorporating once “hard-to-reach” Spanish-speaking communities by intentionally including a bilingual and bicultural evaluator on an evaluation team.

When we learn a professional discipline’s vocabulary we gain entry into it. With conscious effort, years of practice and ongoing skills development enable us to accurately recognize our profession’s lingo, application, and contextual significance. Similarly, to be useful, native and foreign language skills require ongoing exposure and study of the origin of words, shifts in word meaning, and the nuances of regional dialects. An appreciation of diction and speakers’ intonations — the matters of speech and expression that characterize individuals and, by extension, the cultural subgroups with whom they affiliate — broadens our communications.

Evaluators often must negotiate the development of data-collection instruments so they concurrently make sense to the program team and the communities of interest.  In those instances, bilingual/bicultural evaluators aim to accurately identify appropriate and misused wording in evaluation protocols, consequent surveys, and discussion guides. Doing so prevents costly mistakes of data interpretation and misuse.

Lessons Learned:

  • “Como te ven te tratan.” This Spanish expression is about judging someone by their appearance as a clue to their intellectual and socioeconomic status rather than with a true understanding from personally engaging them beyond superficial interaction. Learn it, but act beyond its meaning. Recall, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”
  • Latino/a evaluators’ technical and communication skills are built from formal and informal experiences. Evaluation techniques, language skills, and adherence to cultural practices vary. They may not all be equally personally developed, nor might we choose to use them. By respecting each other’s professional contributions, we create opportunities for genuine and fruitful collegial relationships among peers.
  • Bilingual/bicultural skills are means to expand evaluators’ views into the lives of others, served by publicly funded programs for example, which might otherwise be untapped resources for program or service design, development, and improvement. Expand your professional network to include colleagues who are eager to share those skills along with personal and professional insights.
  • Bilingual/bicultural evaluators do more than translate language. They couple their technical and linguistic skills for culturally responsive evaluation that enriches program design and development. We’re keen on acknowledging that culture is composed of more than demographic variables. 

Rad Resources:

  • The American Evaluation Association’s Latino/a Responsive Evaluation Discourse Topical Interest Group is an evaluation resource. ¡Te esperamos!

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Latina/o Responsive Evaluation Discourse TIG Week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from LA RED Topical Interest Group 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 evaluators.

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