MSI Fellowship Week: Evaluation Challenges in Applying Cultural responsiveness by Tiberio Garza

Hello! This is Tiberio Garza, an Assistant Professor and Associate Director for the Center of Research, Evaluation, and Assessment (CREA) at the University of Nevada Las Vegas.

Translating cultural responsive theory to evaluation practice is not always an easy task. The biggest struggles we see reported in the literature central around five areas: a) working through trust issues with marginalized populations after understanding the circumstances, b) connecting cultural responsiveness with stakeholder needs, c) ensuring diverse voices are heard among stakeholders, d) embedding culturally responsive evaluation within data collection instruments, e) knowing personal bias toward an evaluation, and how race, power, inequity, diversity, culture influence stakeholder relationships (Boyce & Chouinard, 2017).

What we can do to aid the transition of theory to practice is to emphasize in our teaching about culturally responsive evaluation and by providing students or the novice evaluator with practical examples or guided instruction and continue to promote opportunity to learn exercises. Project-based activities can be created by giving students a scenario and having them create an evaluation or by engaging in real world activities to design, implement, critique an evaluation. The intent is for students to practice applying cultural responsiveness in planning, designing, and implementing an evaluation. Another strategy is to use case studies where students can reflect on and discuss culturally responsive approaches. Even further, a reflective journal can be required where students reflect on their background and identity. Reflective journals can be used to aid the student with focusing on social identity, identity of other people, belonging to groups with power and privilege and finally, how their educational background and identity has shaped their personal, societal, and research roles, experiences and perspectives.

Some further examples are activities that help identify personal bias and letting students decide which definition of cultural responsiveness appeals to them the most. I recommend quantifying activities of personal bias, race, power, inequity, diversity, culture in a questionnaire and discussing the results as a class. The questionnaire-based approach allows students time to reflect on their background and identity relative to others, while promoting a safe environment for student reflection. Although there are limitations to the psychometric characteristics, I would also include a personality test (e.g., True Colors Personality Test, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) because it helps students become more aware of their social identity and helps them relate to others when working in groups or having discussions. Last, if you would like a framework for understanding pedagogy as it relates to teaching culturally responsive approaches to evaluation, see Boyce and Chouinard (2017).

Rad Resource: Moving beyond the buzzword: A framework for teaching culturally responsive approaches to evaluation by Boyce, A. S., & Chouinard, J. A. (2017).

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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