Cultural Competency in Evaluation

Cultural Competency in Evaluation

Cultural competence is the ability to possess sensitivity to and understanding of the cultural values of individuals and groups. Culture can be described as the socially transmitted pattern of beliefs, values, and actions shared by groups of people.

Culture may affect everything from how a person with limited English proficiency is able to understand and access consent forms, to the appropriateness of survey or interview questions, to the format and context in which data and results are presented.

Cultural competence in evaluation is an essential competency that allows an evaluator to demonstrate an understanding of and sensitivity to cultural values. This ensures that an evaluation is respectful and responsive to those involved. Cultural competence helps you work effectively in cross-cultural settings.

A culturally competent perspective can promote effective collaboration. It can also ensure that cultural competency is integrated into the entire evaluation process from choosing the methodology, to selecting the right surveys or data collection tools, to reporting the data and findings.

 

Things to consider in building a culturally competent evaluation process:

  • Your cultural values and beliefs
  • Your level of knowledge about the community and culture involved in the evaluation
  • Your interpersonal, relationship building, and communication skills
  • How to obtain diverse stakeholder feedback during the evaluation process
  • How to establish a partnership with stakeholders
  • The sensitivity of topics
  • The appropriate survey language, reading levels, and delivery method
  • Culturally based perceptions of voluntary participation, privacy, and confidentiality
  • A culture's or community's previous experiences with evaluation or research
  • Accessibility of resources/materials needed to understand the program or evaluation

 

You may want to explore established standards for providing services in a culturally competent manner. The guidelines summarized below were developed by the Office of Minority Health

 

To be culturally competent, a person should:

  • Value the differences between groups and individuals
  • Be knowledgeable about different cultures
  • Be aware of the interaction between cultures
  • Be knowledgeable of negative perceptions or stereotypes a group may face
  • Be able to adapt, as needed, to adequately reach diverse groups

 

Assessing Cultural Competency

Self-reflection or self-assessment can be a useful starting point and ongoing activity to help build your cultural competence. Completing this type of reflection or assessment should be considered a strengths-based activity. Building knowledge of our own assumptions, perceptions, and understandings of other cultures can assist us in becoming responsive to different cultural perspectives.

Self-Assessment can help an individual or organization assess how effectively they are providing services to diverse groups, establish meaningful partnerships with communities and stakeholders, and identify areas for training and growth.

There are different kinds of personal reflections and self-assessments available for cultural competence.

The National Center for Cultural Competence has an example of a checklist assessment of cultural competence.

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association has an example of a personal reflection on cultural competence.

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