MSI Fellowship Week: All Evaluation Requires Cultural Responsiveness by Arthur Hernandez

My name is Arthur Hernandez and I am a Professor at the University of the Incarnate Word. I have served as evaluator and teacher of evaluation and am very interested in the processes of cultural responsiveness in practice.

Lesson Learned: It seems to be generally accepted that cultural context influences the manner in which individuals perceive and understand reality and cultural context is a matter of development, identity and the foundation for making judgments about value.  Thus, the inclusion of means of and mechanisms for Culturally Responsive Evaluation (CRE) in our practice is requisite to competent, ethical practice.

Hot Tip:  It is essential to invest in self-assessment.  All too often the effort to engage in CRE involves solely examining participants to determine the impact of identifiable culture on their perception, perspectives and behavior.   While this is certainly important, it is equally important to be aware of or to engage in inquiry to ascertain not usually recognized elements of culture and of how these potentially alternative ways of knowing and valuing may be in influencing the dynamic or interest much less how they might conflict with the culture of the evaluator as well as other important stakeholders.  At a minimum, this self-assessment should be concerned with knowledge, attitudes, familiarity and acceptance.  Knowledge about the community in which the evaluation will take place is essential for development of meaningful metrics and methods.  Gauging attitudes about the community and its values and expectations is essential to ensure that contact with the members is respectful and reasonable (to them).  Familiarity deals with the necessity of establishing meaningful (as opposed to utilitarian) relationships with members of the community and acceptance is the requirement that evaluators understand differences as legitimate and of value in their own right.

Rad Resources: Some good starting point references include:

  • C. Griffith & B. Montrosse-Moorhead (Eds.), Revisiting truth, beauty, and justice: Evaluating with validity in the 21st century. New Directions for Evaluation, 142.
  • Thompson-Robinson, M., Hopson, R., SenGupta, S. (Eds.), In search of cultural competence in evaluation. New Directions for Evaluation,

The American Evaluation Association is AEA Minority Serving Institution (MSI) Fellowship Experience week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from AEA’s MSI Fellows. For more information on the MSI fellowship, see this webpage: 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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