“We don’t see the world as it is. We see it as we are.” – Anais Nin, poet
Hello! We are Ammy Sena and Jenifer “Lucy” Rogers. Cultural awareness of ourselves and of others is a critical step for fair, meaningful evaluations. As 2016-2017 GEDI scholars, we had the opportunity to learn about culturally responsive evaluation. It was an honor to learn from key practitioners, including Dr. Leona Ba whose passion in teaching culture and evaluation was evident during her webinar and summer institute course. We would like to share two tips about culturally responsive evaluation that were particularly relevant during our internship years.
Hot Tip 1: Be aware of your culture.
As GEDI scholars we started our journey by learning how to be self-aware and to understand our own culture and biases – a lesson championed, honed and taught by Dr. Hazel Symonette at the beginning of each GEDI program year. Dr. Ba reinforced this practice during her teachings by sharing her own cultural journey working in various settings. We learned that culture belongs the evaluators, program participants and the broader context of the evaluation. Be careful of common misunderstandings such as culture is static, or that race or ethnicity are the main foci. Culture is, instead, dynamic with multiple layers to consider (e.g. national, economic, organizational, generational, gender, religion, etc.).
Hot Tip 2: Attempt to understand all the values and assumptions at play before engaging or implement the evaluation.
Hear the values of relevant stakeholders, which shed light on what is believed to be good, important, or valuable in a culture, influencing the assumptions present in an evaluation. It is critical for culturally responsive evaluators to clarify values and assumptions in a systematic way. By discussing values and understanding assumptions of stakeholders, the evaluation will be more successful in asking the “right” questions.
Rad Resource: We suggest taking a look at this guide by Dr. Hazel Symonette to calibrate and check the self as an evaluator prior to engaging others.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.