MSI Fellowship Week: Art Hernandez on Cultural Responsiveness and Community Relationships

My name is Art Hernandez and I am a Professor and Dean at Texas A&M University Corpus Christi.

I participated in one of the very early yearlong experiences as an AEA MSI Fellow and have served as the Director for several cohorts most recently this past year. I serve and have served as evaluator and teacher of evaluation and am very interested in the processes of cultural responsiveness in practice especially in regards to measurement and assessment.

Lesson Learned: The negative feelings associated with “difference” and the desire to live in a “normal” world with “normal” people often limits our desire to be in contact much less significantly interact with members of different cultural groups. Among other things, the lack of opportunity for significant experience/interaction and the associated feelings results in stereotyping as a means of coping and explaining.

Hot Tip: It is essential to have a significant “relationship” with the people who are involved in the activity being evaluated. This means developing and establishing significant relationships and doing so for its own sake rather than merely as a device to establish “cultural responsiveness”. In order to have any type of meaningful relationship it is important first to have a good sense of self – knowing your values, biases and “world view” and to be open to any differences in those attitudes and beliefs you might encounter in others. Finally, it is imperative that you reserve judgment and risk making “respectful mistakes.” Respectful mistakes are misunderstandings based in honest interest and founded in honest positive regard for the other person(s). 

Rad Resource: Cultural Competence and Community Studies: Concepts and Practices for Cultural Competence

The Stranger’s Eyes describes a community project and the differences in perspectives between the “benefactors” and those who were to benefit. A link provides access to a reflection guide of questions to guide the consideration of the presented case study. Provided by SIL International.

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.

1 thought on “MSI Fellowship Week: Art Hernandez on Cultural Responsiveness and Community Relationships”

  1. Dear Mr. Hernandez,
    Thank you so much for your blog contribution. I am taking my first course on program evaluation in my Master’s degree and came across your article in a search on culturally responsive evaluation.
    To have a cultural competence in evaluation is a topic I have thought much about as a teacher in my own classroom, particularly in the areas of teaching, learning and valuing traditional Aboriginal ways of learning. I appreciated the article you linked: The Stranger’s Eyes ( It gave a clear picture of the difference of how perception changes depending on our cultural background. Your point of “Among other things, the lack of opportunity for significant experience/interaction and the associated feelings results in stereotyping as a means of coping and explaining.” hit home for me as we often talk about walking a mile in someone else’s shoes. Until we see the world from their perspective, we don’t actually see their world. How we see “normal” changes based on our own worldview and it is so important to be culturally responsive in all aspects of evaluation.

    I loved your hot tip regarding the relationship with the people involved in the activity being evaluated. So often we think of stakeholders as those in a position of power, the ones that hold the purse strings to the programs and it really is the people involved in the program and the impact it has on their world. It reminded me of how important it is, not to see people for who the stereotype says they are – the people accessing the program – but for who they really are. As evaluators, we need to build relationships with the program and the individuals or groups that the programs affect.
    Lastly, thank you for the reminder that we need to stay away from judgement and be open to people and groups of people that have a different world view than our own. Sometimes the positive change that we think we are making as professionals and evaluators is actually negative change based on the difference in cultural experience. As your links clearly identify, this is an error that is often made in evaluation and appears to be due to a perspective that doesn’t take the target groups at their personal level. I sincerely hope that any mistakes I make are “respectful mistakes” and not based on pre-conceived ideas about any groups, but that I keep an open mind about different perspectives.
    Thank you again for your post and I look forward to following you in the future,
    Roberta Toth

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