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  • Writer's pictureallisonjolester

Expanding Your Evaluation Toolkit: Beyond Culturally Responsive Evaluation




Hello, fellow evaluation enthusiasts!


Are you a fan of Culturally Responsive Evaluation (CRE)? Do you find joy in weaving cultural contexts into your evaluation practices, making them more relevant and impactful for the communities you serve? If so, you're in great company! But what if I told you there's a whole universe of similar approaches out there, waiting to be explored?


Whether you're looking to expand your toolkit, deepen your participatory and transformative engagement, or simply mix things up, this post is for you. So, grab your favorite beverage, get comfy, and let's dive into some exciting, insightful, and yes, fun alternatives to CRE!


Participatory Evaluation

Picture this: you're on a road trip, but instead of driving solo, you've got the whole community in the car with you. Participatory Evaluation (PE) is just that—an inclusive, collaborative adventure where stakeholders are co-pilots. They help navigate, choose the playlists, and even decide on the pit stops.

  • Why you'll love it: It’s all about empowerment, shared decision-making, and capacity building. Your evaluations will be richer and more grounded in real-world experiences.

  • Pro Tip: Use participatory methods like group level assessments and community forums. It’s like hosting a mini-town hall where everyone's voice counts!

  • Resource: "Participatory Action Research" by Alice McIntyre


Transformative Evaluation

If you’re passionate about social justice, Transformative Evaluation (TE) is your calling. This approach seeks to address power imbalances and promote equity by integrating the voices of marginalized groups into the evaluation process.

  • Why you'll love it: It’s a powerful tool for social change, focusing on inclusivity and equity.

  • Pro Tip: Center your evaluation around the needs and voices of marginalized communities. Their insights will guide you toward transformative outcomes.

  • Resource: "Transformative Research and Evaluation" by Donna M. Mertens


Indigenous Evaluation

Indigenous Evaluation (IE) grounds itself in the values, knowledge, and traditions of Indigenous peoples. It’s a respectful, community-led approach that honors cultural protocols and sovereignty.

  • Why you'll love it: It’s deeply respectful and aligned with Indigenous ways of knowing and being.

  • Pro Tip: Build genuine relationships with Indigenous communities. Trust and respect are the cornerstones of this approach.

  • Resource: "Indigenous Evaluation Framework: Telling Our Story in Our Place and Time" by Joan LaFrance, Richard Nichols, and Beverly Jacobs


Intersectional Evaluation

Intersectional Evaluation (IE) considers the multiple, intersecting identities of individuals—race, gender, class, and more. It’s like looking through a kaleidoscope, revealing the complex and beautiful patterns of human experience.

  • Why you'll love it: It’s nuanced and comprehensive, addressing the complexity of multiple identities.

  • Pro Tip: Use mixed methods to capture the richness of intersecting identities. Quantitative and qualitative data together can tell a fuller story.

  • Resource: "Intersectionality as Critical Social Theory" by Patricia Hill Collins


Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR)

Last but certainly not least, we have Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR). This approach is the ultimate team effort, involving community members as equal partners throughout the research process.

  • Why you'll love it: It’s all about co-creation, mutual respect, and actionable outcomes that benefit the community.

  • Pro Tip: Foster a culture of collaboration. Regular check-ins and transparent communication keep everyone on the same page.

  • Resource: "Methods for Community-Based Participatory Research for Health" edited by Barbara A. Israel, Eugenia Eng, Amy J. Schulz, and Edith A. Parker


There you have it—five exciting, insightful, and yes, fun evaluation approaches that can complement and expand your practice beyond CRE. Each brings its own flavor to the table, offering new ways to engage, empower, and make a lasting impact.


So, which one will you try next? And remember, the world of evaluation is vast and full of opportunities to learn and grow. Happy evaluating!

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