Assignment: Culturally Competent Evaluators
These principles align closely with the five guiding principles adopted by the American Evaluation Association as quality standards of practice for the profession: (1) systematic inquiry, (2) competence, (3) integrity/honesty, (4) respect for people, and (5) responsibilities for general and public welfare. The guiding principles for multicultural evaluation, however, imply a higher threshold that takes into account these generally accepted standards of quality evaluation while overlaying explicit consideration of differences related to diversity in race and ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, religion, disability, and/or immigrant status.
Multicultural evaluation is built from core elements of sound evaluation practices, such as data- based inquiry, valid and reliable measures, and impartial assessment. Multicultural evaluation also reflects characteristics of quality evaluations based on guidelines set forth by the American Evaluation Association, such as strongly respecting stakeholders’ self-worth, considering perspectives of a full range of stakeholders, and (where feasible) providing benefit to those who contribute data. When the principles of multicultural evaluation are applied to all aspects of evaluation—from the evaluator; to design and planning; to data collection, analysis, reporting, and application of findings—the result is a significant shift in how evaluation is implemented. The characteristics of a multicultural evaluation are shown in Table 6.3.
Traditional evaluation is based on a long history in which formally trained evaluators implement needs or impact assessments based on established measures of what is good practice. Multicultural evaluation is characterized by reciprocity. Evaluators integrate their own expertise throughout the evaluation, but the evaluator does not presume to understand the cultural context of diverse communities that are being studied. As a result, multicultural evaluation is characterized by a fundamental shift in how the evaluation is conceptualized and designed, how communities are engaged in data collection and analysis, and how the findings from the evaluation are ultimately communicated and used.
TABLE 6.3 Characteristics of a Multicultural Evaluation
Source: Inouy e, Yu, and Adefuin (2005).
Closely related to understanding the principles and characteristics of multicultural evaluation is defining the characteristics of evaluators that make them culturally competent. Attributes of multicultural evaluators’ competence do not lend themselves to a checklist or a formula. Rather, the multicultural knowledge, attitudes, and skill sets that evaluators bring to their work can best be viewed as evolving human skills that are developed over time. Some of the most often described characteristics are:
Experience in diverse communities. Although an evaluator may not necessarily be from the same cultural background as the people in the communities he or she is evaluating, cultural competence involves a broader world perspective, often gained from experience living or working with different cultural groups.
Openness to learning about cultural complexities. Culturally competent evaluators exhibit humility about what they think they already know and are open to in-depth understanding of the nuances and complexities of inter- and intracultural influences and variations.
Flexibility in evaluation design and practice. Rather than coming in with prescriptive evaluation strategies, culturally competent evaluators realize limitations to established approaches and are willing to adapt to honor different cultural contexts.
Rapport and trust with diverse communities. Culturally competent evaluators prioritize relationship building with diverse communities rather than viewing them solely as data sources. Relationships are viewed as mutually beneficial.
Acknowledgment of power differentials. Culturally competent evaluators acknowledge the various power differentials possible in an evaluation, including those between the evaluator and those being evaluated, or between the commissioning entity (often a foundation) and those being evaluated.
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