Cultural Competence Week: Kenneth Kelty on AEA Student Travel Support Winners: Reflection and Discussion on Cultivating Cultural Competence in the Field of Evaluation

Hi, I’m Kenneth Kelty (with assistance from Seb Prohn*), a senior in Western Carolina University’s University Participant Program. I have intellectual disability (ID) and autism. I was a co-evaluator on a project this year where we looked at improving social inclusion for students with ID on my campus. I earned an AEA student travel award to help make evaluation more inclusive and facilitated the session on Reflection and Discussion on Cultivating Cultural Competence in the Field of Evaluation.

I felt very welcomed at AEA. But, when meeting with the student travel award winners, I learned about a time at this year’s conference when an African American woman speaking on an AEA panel was ignored or talked over by other panelists. Even at AEA, everyone should work on making the conference feel more inclusive. Everyone has a voice that matters.

Lessons Learned:

  • I can help others walk in my shoes and understand the importance inclusion if I have a voice in evaluation.  Who better than me to explain my perspective and evaluate my experience?
  • Use PhotoVoice. This tool makes evaluation more accessible. When evaluators explain their photographs, they connect it with meaning in their lives. Taking pictures as data for evaluation  has helped me to see what I have done in an evaluation and helps others realize I’m doing everything my typically-developing peers are doing. It has helped me feel more included and speak up about changes.
  • Don’t skip training participant evaluators in Photovoice! It may take weeks to train but it will be worth it. During training, I learned about ethics and the importance of consent forms. I also became better at taking pictures and telling my story.

Hot Tips:

  • When you evaluate with people with ID, look at possibilities and their strengths. Sometimes they can recognize or remember something you don’t.
  • Photo consent forms can be hard to remember when you go out to collect data. It helps to put photo consent forms in an electronic format, preferable one that can be shown to subjects and signed using an i-Pad or smartphone.
  • For people who don’t want to talk or cannot talk about their PhotoVoice pictures, encourage them to blog, type, or email (with assistive technology, if needed). You can also encourage them to take more pictures – they are “worth a thousand words.”

Rad Resources: There are several apps that can be used to make photo release forms easier to sign:

Believing in participants’ self-determination is necessary for inclusive evaluation. This series helps readers better understand how to honor and promote self-determination in evaluation and elsewhere:

This brief by Maria Paiewonsky will help evaluators implement multiple modes and methods for researchers with ID.

*Seb Prohn is the UP Program ‘faculty liaison & outreach coordinator’. Beyond performing internal evaluations for the UP Program he evaluates other NC postsecondary education programs for individuals with intellectual disability.

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 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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