GEDI Week: Thana-Ashley Charles and Jamie Vickery on Learning and Applying Cultural Competence Within an Evaluation Team

Throughout the course of our GEDI experience, we have been immersed in cultural competence and culturally responsive evaluation. We learned the fundamentals of cultural competence in seminars at Claremont Graduate University and explored the prevalence of culturally responsive evaluation topics at AEA’s annual meeting. The unique opportunity of being able to observe the work of teams at our intern sites provided an especially useful experience of what it is like to not only practice culturally responsive evaluation, but also how to work within settings that are new to evaluation practice. While the knowledge we gained through our GEDI trainings was beneficial in preparing us for our sites, our experiences working within groups that were not accustomed to evaluation, or culturally responsive evaluation more specifically, gave us a unique opportunity to practice our newly acquired knowledge.

Lessons Learned from our GEDI Site Experiences:

Working on a team can be challenging when balancing multiple personalities and working styles to reach a common goal or deliverable. This can be particularly challenging when working on an evaluation project because often the teams include members external to your organization (clients, external partners, beneficiaries). Cultural competence, as we have observed, emanates from clear communication among evaluation team members and working within existing organizational structures to incorporate culturally competent evaluation practice. Some ways that the teams we have observed have navigated cultural competence were:

  • Embedded culturally responsive practices within the team’s regular protocol – Evaluation teams that work with many external clients tend to have routine processes for carrying out their scope of work from start to finish. When culturally responsive practices are embedded into these routines, it makes them necessary for all members of the team to consider and complete. It also helps to guarantee that even those who might not be coming to the table with a background in cultural competence can learn and become more familiar with its use.
  • For groups or organizations working with clients who are unfamiliar with evaluation practice – Evaluation can be a scary word to many individuals and organizations. An awareness of an organization’s comfort with and knowledge of evaluation is necessary prior to implementing an evaluation plan. This requires that evaluators practice culturally competent evaluation not only for projects as they pertain to their clients, but also interpersonally when working internally or externally as an evaluator.

Rad Resource:

An excellent resource for those looking for best practices for culturally competent evaluation work comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Practical Strategies for Culturally Competent Evaluation. Atlanta, GA: US Department of Health and Human Services; 2014.

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: 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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