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Social Work TIG Week: I.M.P.A.C.T. Framework in Social Work Practice by Sharon Attipoe-Dorcoo and Norma Martínez-Rubin

We are Sharon Attipoe-Dorcoo (principal of TERSHA LLC, a Ghanaian-American who embraces her intersectional facets of being a wife and mom in her work, and is a community scholar-activist who found her path from engineering into public health. Her work is rooted in culturally responsive and equitable tools for co-designing research and evaluation initiatives with communities) and Norma Martínez-Rubin (a bilingual/bicultural (Mexican-American) independent program evaluator experienced in public health education and training, administration, and service as a local elected official). We are the originators of the Inclusive, Manumit, Practice-based, Accessible, Community-based, Timely (I.M.P.A.C.T.) framework.

The I.M.P.A.C.T. framework is a practical approach centered on the principles of culturally responsive and equitable evaluation (CREE). Principles that:

  • Honor community as a whole system;
  • Acknowledge cultural influences;
  • Show interdisciplinary thinking;
  • Ask whose priorities are guiding the work at hand;
  • Demonstrate adaptability; and
  • Respect a community’s pace.

I.M.P.A.C.T. is practice-based and serves to guide the work of evaluators who plan to adopt CREE practices in their work.

The Just Practice Framework in social work theory, by Janet L. Finn, challenges readers to apply the following participatory approaches to their work: critical reflection, engagement, teaching/learning, action accompaniment, evaluation, and celebration. The field of evaluation offers decades of scholarship and practitioners’ reflections that undergird the principles of CREE. The I.M.P.A.C.T. framework’s components can be made operational when planning, designing, or implementing an evaluation in social work practice.

Each I.M.P.A.C.T. component encourages the evaluator to reflect on how to apply a CREE-mindset for evaluative purposes.

  • Inclusive: For whom am I working? How do community members engage in defining the “problem” from a strength-based perspective to attain equitable and culturally derived solutions?
  • Manumit: The evaluator sets free their preconceptions and listens to community members in a co-creative process. 
  • Practice-based: Evaluators systematically identify assumptions and co-create practical recommendations for social change in a particular setting.
  • Accessible: Evaluators present study findings, or results, in formats and at literacy levels that are comprehensible to community members and allies whose lives or ways of operating will be influenced by the evaluation.
  • Community-focused: Evaluators’ philosophical and technical approaches demonstrate adaptability and the understanding that methodological rigor may not align with community needs.
  • Timely: Evaluators are mindful of the urgency, and timeliness of acquiring evidence derived from community engagement to help rectify inequities in myriad social systems traversed by those communities.

Lesson Learned

The authors consider I.M.P.A.C.T. a practical approach to guide the work of CREE-oriented evaluation, and the framework’s components can be made operational when planning, designing or implementing an evaluation in social work practice by: 1) fostering a community-first approach to goal-setting in evaluation; 2) complementing data-driven, measurement-oriented methodologies used in assessments; and 3) heightening the value of practice-based, experiential learning to a comparable level of worth and merit given to social research derived from established scientific principles

Hot Tip

Research that fails to account for people’s lived experiences often fails to produce solutions with sustainable, positive impacts for the involved communities; therefore, I.M.P.A.C.T. embraces an interdisciplinary approach to inform social work in service to communities.

Rad Resource

Attipoe-Dorcoo, S. & Martínez-Rubin, N. (in press). Critically Defining I.M.P.A.C.T. for Culturally Responsive and Equitable Evaluation. In Adedoyin, C., Amutah-Onukagha, N, & Jones, C. (Eds.), Culturally Responsive and Equitable Evaluation: Visions and Voices of Emerging Scholars. Cognella Academic Publishing. San Diego, CA.

The American Evaluation Association is hosting SW TIG Week with our colleagues in the Social Work Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to AEA365 come from our SW 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. The views and opinions expressed on the AEA365 blog are solely those of the original authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the American Evaluation Association, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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