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GEDI Week: Dominic Combs and Marques Hogan on a Quest to Become Culturally Responsive Evaluators

We are Dominic Combs and Marques Hogan, scholars of the GEDI program’s 13th cohort. Through professional development, conferences, mentoring and internships in organizations that value culturally responsive evaluation, the GEDI program makes space for scholars to learn and practice. Further, the yearlong experience encourages scholars to challenge their capacities and pursue careers that we previously did not consider. We’d like to share with the AEA community a few lessons learned that helped us to grow beyond novice evaluator into responsive roles. 

Lessons Learned:

  1. Positionality & Self-Reflection: Understanding personal biases before, during and after evaluation work is an intricate component of culturally responsive evaluation. As interns it was important for us to carefully monitor our positionality and understand the intersections of self-to-self, self-to-others, and self-to-systems (Symonette, 2009) as our work engaged stakeholders from various communities and schools across the United States. Self-reflection allowed us to recognize and address our positionalities’ impact on the work.
  2. Inclusiveness: Evaluators can make space for all stakeholders to be seen and heard at multiple points in the evaluation (i.e., learning & engaging stakeholders, data collection and interpretation, and disseminating results). This allows communities to contribute input to shape evaluations that are uniquely meaningful to their needs. Evaluators can always advocate against a one-size fits all approach.
  3. Evaluator Characteristics: In a program workshop, GEDI program co-founder Dr. Hazel Symonette shared that “good evaluators should be open to new ideas, light on their feet, learning centered and responsive.” Each stakeholder possessed their own wants, needs, and levels of expertise, therefore being able to communicate effectively at each level allows for increased validity in evaluation with clear, specific, and obtainable objectives.

Rad Resources:

Dr. Symonette’s work allows professionals to examine what they bring to an evaluation (information, perceptions and biases) and how professionals see themselves at different points in an evaluation. We found these resources particularly helpful:

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Graduate Education Diversity Internship (GEDI) Program week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from AEA’s GEDI Program and its interns. For more information on GEDI, see their webpage here: http://www.eval.org/GEDI 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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