LA RED Week: Art Hernandez on Latino Cultural Competence

My name is Art Hernandez and I am a Professor and Dean at Texas A&M University Corpus Christi. I teach and practice research and evaluation, have participated in the AEA Minority Serving Institution initiative also serving as Director. As a supporting member of the newly formed LA RED network, this post focuses on Latino Cultural Competence.

Lesson Learned: The usual assumption that people from particular cultural backgrounds (especially Latino/a) are by nature culturally competent to work with that population is often not well founded.

Hot Tip: While it is clear that individuals’ likelihood of cultural competence is greater when those individuals share a cultural background with those who participate in an activity to be evaluated, it should not be assumed that this competence is guaranteed by virtue of that common background. This is true for multiple reasons, a few of which are presented here for consideration:

  • Experience: Difference of experience is a great contributor to perspective; values and differences are extremely likely across generations even within cultural groups.
  • Cultural identity: In addition, it is likely that in some situations, differences in education, economic background, etc. have an impact on cultural identity to some demonstrable degree even if there is an overlap in experience during some previous stage of life (e.g. childhood poverty, etc.).
  • Language: Differences in language fluency and usage between the evaluator and the evaluand are likely given differences in education among other things. These differences must be examined even when evaluators are “fluent” since even among fluent speakers differences in vocabulary, slang, etc. can often be geographically based and it is clear that language is one of the main indicators of culture and often the principal source of or medium for conduct of the “data” considered in evaluation exercises.

Lessons Learned: Basic principles of cultural competence: It should be clear and a matter of usual operation that the basic principles of cultural competence be applied in all situations regardless of the apparent background of the evaluator or the ability of that individual to provide an insight into the community about and from which information will be collected.

Common cultural competence elements are essential: A detailed self-assessment, direct engagement with and assessment of the community to determine values, perspectives, history, and objectives. All of these are germane and of potential influence. As such, they must be considered in the crafting of data collection and interpretive, analytical mechanisms.

Rad Resource: Read Del Prado et al.’s Culture, Method and Content of Self Concepts: Testing Trait, Individual-Self-Primacy and Cultural Psychology Perspectives.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Latina/o Responsive Evaluation Discourse Network Week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from LA RED Network members. 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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