Hello fellow culturally-responsive evaluation lovers! My name is Scott Tharp and I am the Associate Director for the Center for Intercultural Programs at DePaul University. It’s a simple fact that we live in a multicultural world where multiple values and experiences are present. While some might think evaluation is inherently “neutral”, it never is.
Social identities (e.g. race, gender, class), experiences, value systems, and beliefs will influence the assessment process in many ways. From how you word survey questions to the assumptions that inform your data analysis, social identities matter. Because not all people are the same, we must increase our cultural competence to ensure our assessment processes effective and respectful.
To define it simply, cultural competence is the level of knowledge, awareness and skill you have to engage in effective cross-cultural interactions. Pope & Reynold’s wrote a great article back in 1997 entitled Student Affairs Core Competencies: Integrating Multicultural Awareness Knowledge and Skills. While they speak from their context of higher education, the insight applies to non-profits and corporations alike.
They offer specific competencies related to each of the three domains for you to consider as you continue to enhance your culturally responsive evaluation practice. Because cultural competence in assessment begins with cultivating your own cultural competence, this is where we all must begin. This is a life-long process that takes time and dedication to self-work. Here are some useful questions to help you along the way.
Hot Tip #1: Start with yourself. How knowledgeable are you about your own social identities beyond a label? Are you self-aware enough to articulate how your social identities influence your values and worldview? Do you have skills for critical self-reflection that you practice daily? Many people refer to this simply as your “self-work”
Hot Tip #2: Learn About Others. How knowledgeable are you about social identities different from your own? Does your knowledge extend past material culture and into their values and histories? Are you self-aware enough to identify assumptions and biases towards others? Do you have the skills to challenge your own assumptions and biases before they become stereotypes?
Hot Tip #3: Consider the Systemic. How knowledgeable are you about diversity and social justice concepts and the history of social identity categories? Are you aware of social inequalities around you, or do you dismiss them as “just the way things are?” Do you have the skills to address social inequality so that you do not replicate interactions that create harm to others?
Taking time to increase our knowledge, awareness and skills related to ourselves, others, and the social environment we live in will sensitize us to social and cultural differences that will lead to better data, better conclusions, and better decisions.
We’re looking forward to November and the Evaluation 2015 annual conference all this week with our colleagues in the Local Arrangements Working Group (LAWG). 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 contribute to aea365? Review the contribution guidelines and send your draft post to firstname.lastname@example.org.