Hi! My name is Osman Ozturgut. I am an assistant professor of doctoral studies at the University of the Incarnate Word. I have been teaching about culture and evaluation for some time now and I wanted to share my experiences.
Lesson Learned: Learning cannot happen unless we understand the social, cultural, economic, educational, and political spaces in which we live. Our further interactions and relationships with students, parents, and other members of the communities we live and work in shape our effectiveness as facilitators of learning. Whether we call it culturally competent, culturally sensitive, culturally responsive, culturally proficient, or simply good evaluation, to be effective evaluators and facilitators, we need to be able to communicate and negotiate among diverse cultures and understand the meaning systems of our audience.
What I have found to be missing in communicating with our audience is the emphasis on how the “self” influences our behaviors. Knowledge is constructed and valued through our past experiences. So, it is important to emphasize the “self” before teaching about specific context: “Cultural competence requires awareness of self, reflection on one’s own cultural position, awareness of others’ positions, and the ability to interact genuinely and respectfully with others” (AEA, 2011).
The focus of many training and teaching sessions on cultural competency has been teaching our audience on the “other”, simply focusing on the knowledge. Knowing does not necessarily translate into behavior. Once we create an awareness of the “self”, we can teach about the “other.” It is then we have a chance of moving beyond, “My best friend is African-American, of course I understand my stakeholders” or “You are Hispanic, you must be an expert on cross-cultural interactions. How about we add you to our evaluation team?”
The framework I use for teaching evaluation is, attitude (creating an awareness of the “self”), knowledge (teach about the “other”), skill (teach them about the skills needed, using case studies), and behavior (reflect on what culturally competent evaluation looks like in practice), of course, emphasizing the context for each case.
- Have a framework and stick to it. Don’t let your audience get distracted. We each define and make sense of cultural competency through our past experiences.
- Focus your teaching/training on creating an awareness of the “self.” You can use “Diversity Iceberg” as a tool for beginners.
- Go beyond the stereotypes when teaching about the “other.” Focus on what is not obvious.
- Use case studies to show what culturally competent teaching looks like in practice.
Rad Resources: Microagression is an area we rarely look at. Check out this video for an overview: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJL2P0JsAS4
Check out “Evaluation Ethics for Best Practice”, by Michael Morris. It provides cases and commentaries.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.