CP TIG Week: The Evolution of Action-Orientation in the Field of Community Psychology by Elizabeth McGee

Hi, I’m Elizabeth McGee, Founder and Senior Consultant at LEAP Consulting, helping nonprofits, foundations, and public institutions achieve impact through meaningful evaluations and strategic support. I want to talk about the evolution of action-orientation in the field of Community Psychology.

Lessons Learned: A Community Psychologist is action-oriented when they are preemptive and intentional in supplying practical implications and concrete actions. Whether in applied research or evaluation, a cornerstone of our practice is to produce ideas and tools that initiatives or communities can use.

In the ten years since completing my graduate training in Community Psychology, I have seen the concept of action-orientation evolve. Here are the three biggest evolutions I have observed.

Evolution 1: Co-Creation of Recommendations
10 Years Ago Now
Recommendations were written in isolation by the evaluator and based only on the evaluation data collected. I now co-create recommendations together with clients and communities so that recommendations reflect the perspectives and ideas of everybody involved. This provides context around the data, solidifies the practicality of my recommendations, and achieves the buy-in of those involved. In turn, my clients more frequently act on my recommendations.
Evolution 2: Learning
10 Years Ago Now
Learning rested on the slim chance that a client read your long and dense evaluation report. In my current evaluation work, learning is not confined to a dry evaluation report. Learning is an active process that occurs throughout a project. Learning isn’t something that is owned by the evaluator, but rather, is something that all stakeholders contribute to, participate in and collectively own.
Evolution 3: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
10 years Ago Now
I learned to bring culturally appropriate methods and practices to my evaluation work. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion means I build environments where individuals and groups feel welcomed, respected, supported, and valued so that all can be comfortable to fully participate. Such environments are central to my methods of collecting data, analyzing data, sensemaking, and co-creating recommendations.

When analyzing data, I review historical and root causes of relevant inequalities to create solutions that truly address problems and upend the status quo.

What evolutions do we anticipate over the next decade in our practice as Community Psychologists?

What influence do we have as applied researchers, evaluators, and consultants?

What responsibility do we have?

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating CP TIG Week with our colleagues in the Community Psychology Topical Interest Group. The contributions all week come from CP 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.

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