SW TIG Week: Sharing Power in Culturally-Responsive Evaluation Practice by Rachel Vinciguerra

Hi all! My name is Rachel Vinciguerra and I am a master’s student of international development and social work at the University of Pittsburgh. This summer I worked on two program evaluations in Haiti: one a mid-point evaluation for a girls’ empowerment program, the other a preliminary design of M&E protocols for an emerging foster care agency. Coming from a social work background, and as an American evaluator working in Haiti, it was especially important to me the studies were culturally-responsive and took marginalized groups into consideration as major stakeholders.

Ultimately, it came down to sharing power with these groups throughout the evaluation process. I found that, when we put them at the center of design, implementation, and presentation, results were richer.

Hot Tip #1: Identify marginalized groups.

  • There are two pieces to this. First, you have to begin with considerable knowledge of the culture and community in which you are working in order to understand specific and, often complex, hierarchies of power. Second, you have to allow that structural knowledge to contextualize your early conversations with stakeholders in order to identify those groups in the program whose voices are not often heard.

Hot Tip #2: Engage marginalized groups on the same level as your organizational client.

  • Consider how you engage your organizational client as you plan for evaluation. Are they telling you what questions they want answered? Are you working with them to develop a theory of change model? Are you collaborating on the timeline of the evaluation? Now consider the marginalized groups in your evaluation and share power in the same way with them. They may be beneficiaries of the program, but they may also be groups within the organization that hired you.

Hot Tip #3: Ensure evaluation results can be understood by all involved.

  • It is research 101. Human subjects deserve access to the knowledge and research they help generate and you can make sure they get it. In the evaluations I worked on, this meant translating all reporting into Haitian Creole and communicating the results in the same diverse modalities I had for my client.

Lessons Learned:

  • Be patient. Be flexible. Be humble. Make and maintain space in your design to be responsive to marginalized groups and be ready to adapt quickly and with humility as needed.

Rad Resources:


The American Evaluation Association is celebrating 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.

3 thoughts on “SW TIG Week: Sharing Power in Culturally-Responsive Evaluation Practice by Rachel Vinciguerra”

  1. Justin Garrison

    My name is Justin Garrison, I am currently learning about program evaluation. I really enjoyed your hot tips to give a stepping stone to find the marginalized groups and where to go from there. You explained it in a way that put me in the shoes of someone doing it. It felt like good learning. “Be patient. Be flexible. Be humble.” When you said that I thought it was amazing. A lot of people for get this and to be reminded of it was nice.

  2. Anushiik (thank you) for this article and sharing the CREA website and resources. Hood, Hopson, and Frierson have a 2nd book on CRE too from 2015. It is a continuation of their first that you mention in the article. Book is here: http://www.infoagepub.com/products/Continuing-the-Journey-to-Reposition-Culture-and-Cultural-Context-in-Evaluation-Theory-and-Practice. It contains likely the LARGEST collection of Inidgenous evaluators to date in one publication for CRE. LOVE!

  3. I loved Tip #2! We often engage marginalized stakeholders in things like appropriate methods, instruments, etc., but much less often in shaping the timeline or the core evaluation questions. What a great reminder – thank you!

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