MIE TIG Week: Maurice Samuels on Building an Evaluator’s Capacity to Conduct Culturally Competent Evaluations

Greetings my name is Maurice Samuels and I’m a Lead Evaluation and Research Associate at Outlier Research and Evaluation, CEMSE|University of Chicago. Our group recently hosted an American Evaluation Association Graduate Education Diversity Intern (GEDI). This was a wonderful opportunity for me and my colleagues to influence the development of a new member to the field. She had the experience of conducting an evaluation, more importantly we supported her thinking about and practice of cultural competence in evaluation. Below are several helpful tips to introduce evaluators to cultural competence in evaluation:

Hot Tips:

  1. Immerse yourself in the literature – It is important to have an understanding of evaluation frameworks and approaches (e.g., culturally responsive evaluation, contextually responsive evaluation, cross- cultural evaluation) that are sensitized to culture and context in order to stimulate thinking about the role of culture in evaluation. Equally important is to have a comprehensive understanding of how culture has been characterized in other fields such as anthropology, health, and social work. This is particularly helpful due to the various ways in which culture can be understood. For articles on the role of culture in evaluation check out http://education.illinois.edu/crea/publications.
  2. Use the resources available through the American Evaluation Association (AEA) – The AEA has several Topical Interest Groups (TIGs) that have an explicit commitment to culture and diversity (e.g., Multiethnic Issues in Evaluation (MIE) TIG; Disabilities and Other Vulnerable Populations (DOVP) TIG; Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Issues (LGBT) TIG; Indigenous Peoples in Evaluation TIG; Feminist Issues in Evaluation TIG; International and Cross Cultural Evaluation (ICCE) TIG). In addition, commit yourself to AEA’s Cultural Competence in Evaluation and review their Introduction to the Cultural Readings of The Program Evaluation Standards and the Guiding Principles for Evaluators.
  3. Create opportunities to engage in dialogue about cultural competence – Introduce or network with people in the field with similar interest and those that are enacting cultural competence is important to making the practice concrete. Further, this encourages open conversations about culture, which helps to refine ones notions of cultural competence and provides multiple perspectives to draw upon.
  4. Encourage strong field work practices and self-reflection – When in the field it is important that the evaluator builds relationships with clients and stakeholders, understand the context of the program and the surrounding community, and gives back to the community in tangible ways such as volunteering at the program or attending program sponsored events that are not related to the evaluation.   As for self-reflection, it is important to document and share decisions made and assumptions when in the field through journaling and debriefing with a colleague.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Multiethnic Issues in Evaluation (MIE) Week with our colleagues in the MIE Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from MIE TIG 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@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

1 thought on “MIE TIG Week: Maurice Samuels on Building an Evaluator’s Capacity to Conduct Culturally Competent Evaluations”

  1. The first step in developing culturally competent evaluations is not to immerse yourself in the literature. The first step is to TALK TO PEOPLE WHO ARE FROM DIFFERENT CULTURES THAN YOU.

    Not one of your steps directly talks about actually engaging with people from different cultures. :/

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