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Community Development TIG Week: The Power of Collective Reflective Practice in Community Development Evaluation by Joy Amulya

“Diversity is having a seat at the table, inclusion is having a voice, and belonging is having a voice to be heard.” -Liz Fosslien

This year Community Development (CD) TIG’s sponsored week focuses on community development evaluation and how members are addressing diversity, equity, and inclusion. Research shows that diversity and inclusion in the workforce enhance organizational performance and creativity, and positively impact population health outcomes ( CDC; Science Direct Diversity Article). In the forthcoming week, the CD TIG will seek to highlight these efforts, as well as share Hot Tips and Tools with readers on how to enhance diversity, equity and inclusion efforts within the community development and evaluation workspace.

Happy Community Development Evaluation Week! I’m Joy Amulya, Senior Technical Expert for Evaluation and Learning at IREX and member of the CD TIG since its inception. I have always been fascinated by the power of collective reflective practice to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion, making it an essential tool in community development evaluation.

There are three ways that reflective practice can be used the context of community development evaluation:

  1. Community practitioners reflect on what they do, how they do it, and how they think about it to surface the “theories of action” underlying their work. Evaluators can then facilitate participatory evaluation design informed by these theories.
  2. Learning questions can be derived from through reflection on the critical moments practitioners have experienced in their work.
  3. As an evaluation is conducted, routine reflective practice focused on one or more learning questions has the potential to transform the thinking about those actions.

Hot Tips:

DO facilitate a collective reflective learning process such as Critical Moments Reflection with community stakeholder groups so that their tacit knowledge can be available for the evaluation design process.

DO design any reflective learning process as you would an evaluation or other inquiry process. The process design should have similar components to other types of inquiry design: Purposes, Conceptual Framework, Learning Questions, Learning Process, and Uses of Learning.

DO use the principles of collaborative adult learning to design collective reflection activities to promote equity, inclusion, and diversity.

Rad Resources:

Vital Difference: The Role of Race in Building Community (how a collective reflective practice was used to engage community groups to surface and share what they had learned through multiracial community development work.)

Critical Reflection in Community-Based Evaluation (development of a critical reflection framework for community-based evaluation)

The American Evaluation Association is hosting Community Development TIG Week with our colleagues in the Community DevelopmentTopical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to AEA365 come from our CD TIG 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. The views and opinions expressed on the AEA365 blog are solely those of the original authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the American Evaluation Association, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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