Cultural Competence Week: Osman Özturgut and Lisa Aponte-Soto on Sustainability of Cultural Competency in Evaluation

Hi! We are Osman Özturgut and Lisa Aponte-Soto from the AEA Public Statement on Cultural Competence in Evaluation Dissemination Working Group. Ozturgut is an assistant professor of doctoral studies at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio; and, Aponte-Soto serves as National Program Deputy Director of RWJF New Connections at OMG Center for Collaborative Learning. The increasing diversity among the stakeholders in evaluation produces mass confusion about how to evaluate, what to evaluate, when to evaluate, and even who to evaluate. And with multiple definitions (and semantics) involved in the discourse of culture and context in evaluation, we get distracted.

When working with and across cultures, we consistently assume the role of a care-taker to help the marginalized communities. We do this through top-down policy models forcing upon the marginalized so that they can be un-marginalized in the programs we evaluate. Clarification of the meanings and values implicit and explicit in particular contexts for any stakeholder group is a significant step in achieving sustainability. Unless we involve people meaningfully in the events and processes that shape their lives, and local capacities are used to define the nature of the interventions, we cannot sustain cultural competency in evaluation.

Sustainable cultural competency is not only developing adequate professional skills to provide services to, but rather with diverse stakeholders, and is definitely beyond “sensitivity”, “awareness”, responsiveness”, and “knowledge”. It is an on-going self-reflective process as evaluators, acknowledging and locating the “self” within each unique evaluation context.

Hot Tips for Sustainable Cultural Competency

  • Institutionalize! Each organization must integrate cultural competency as a core competency for evaluators. This includes government, industry, higher education, and non-profit organizations.
  • Secure commitment from the leadership.
  • Ensure stakeholder involvement at every stage of the evaluation. Empower action.
  • Form coalitions, networks of shared interests, and communicate the vision.
  • Develop metrics that are aligned with and respond to stakeholder needs. This may seem rather naïve given the complexity of culture and context but it is a start!
  • Identify best practices to bring culture into policy and practice

Rad Resource: The AEA Public Statement on Cultural Competence in Evaluation provides guiding principles and essential practices for applying a culturally responsive lens in evaluation.

Rad Resource: Change is difficult. Refresh your knowledge with Kotter’s Change Model.

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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