MSI Fellowship Week: Reflecting on Culturally Responsive Evaluation in Relationship to the Higher Education Context by Tiffany J. Davis

Greetings, everyone! I am Tiffany J. Davis, a Clinical Assistant Professor of Higher Education at the University of Houston, and a Fellow in the AEA Minority Serving Institution (MSI) Faculty Initiative. I teach courses related to assessment, evaluation, and research methods in postsecondary education. Throughout our MSI Fellowship year, we have been introduced to the importance and practice of culturally responsive evaluation (CRE), the practice of centering the cultural context in which an evaluation takes places and understanding the ways it influences both individuals’ behaviors and project design and results. As a higher education scholar, I have reflected on how the assessment movement within postsecondary education has done well in respecting and engaging the influence of context that is being advanced by CRE.

First, assessment and evaluation efforts in higher education and student affairs has always been viewed as local in nature and intended to guide programmatic and institutional improvement which necessitates centering culture and context. Moreover, the projects are most often led by internal staff members who are close to the programs and policies being assessed and evaluated. Thus, there is a strong focus on not only engaging broad and diverse stakeholders, but ensuring that professionals utilize the results to develop more inclusive, transformative, and equity-oriented policies, processes, and programs that respect the local context and culture. What I found particularly noteworthy is that the work of educational assessment has moved beyond simply acknowledging the relevance of culture within a project to actually shaping and meeting social justice goals such as reducing educational disparities and inequities across race and income identity. Institutions are utilizing assessment methods enhance the student experience and ensure the success of diverse and historically marginalized populations, such as first-generation, low-income, and racial/ethnic minority students. In reflection, it is clear the field of higher education is demonstrating how assessment and evaluation work can play a central role in achieving social justice aspirations.

Learning more about culturally responsive evaluation and reflecting on how these concepts show up in my discipline was useful not only as I continue to teach assessment and evaluation courses for graduate students, but also continue to enhance my own praxis. Therefore, l am sharing below some accessible resources that I have found helpful for learning about culturally responsive evaluation and identifying professional learning opportunities.

Rad Resources:

American Evaluation Association Statement on Cultural Competence In Evaluation

Center for Culturally Responsive Evaluation and Assessment

Culturally Responsive Evaluation: Theory, Practice, and Implications

Resources for Culturally Responsive Evaluation

Practical Strategies for Culturally Competent Evaluation

I would also like to share some recent literature from the field of Higher Education and Student Affairs that I believe are helpful for enriching the conversation centered on culturally responsive assessment and evaluation approaches.

Developing Socially Just Practices and Policies in Assessment

Equity and Assessment: Moving Towards Culturally Responsive Assessment

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: http://www.eval.org/p/cm/ld/fid=230 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.

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