Last week, I attended and led a roundtable discussion [*] at the third annual conference of the Center for Culturally Responsive Evaluation and Assessment [CREA]. I had read and thought quite a bit about CREA before the conference, but what I learned made me reflect on how diversity programing, including DiversityEdu, should be designed and evaluated.
The Core Principle
The core principle of CREA, as expressed by the editors of a seminal text in the field, Continuing the Journey to Reposition Culture and Cultural Context in Evaluation Theory and Practice, is that:
“Without the nuanced consideration of cultural context in evaluations conducted within diverse ethnic, linguistic, economic and racial communities of color, there can be no good evaluation.” [**]
Before I went to the conference, I understood that the practice of CREA pertains to the evaluation and assessment of learning programs, whether that program is a technology program for fourth graders, an intervention for anger management, or a course in diversity skills for college students and faculty like DiversityEdu.
What I learned at the conference is that CREA applies to the design of learning programs, too. Accordingly, the inverse of the statement above is an equally core principle of CREA:
There can be no good evaluation of learning programs unless the developer, learners, sponsors, and all stakeholders in the program, position themselves within the context of diverse ethnic, linguistic, economic and racial communities of color.
Applying the Core Principle: The Design and Evaluation of DiversityEdu
The goal of DiversityEdu has always been to increase the cultural responsiveness of the learner. The topic I set for my roundtable was how to bring the principles of CREA to the design of diversity learning programs, including DiversityEdu, so that increased cultural responsiveness is the outcome for the learner. I am still reflecting on all I learned from the roundtable participants and conference presentations I attended, but my takeaway may be summarized as follows:
Cultural responsiveness can be the outcome of a learning program only if cultural inclusion is the goal and cultural context is the basis for the design, implementation, and evaluation of the program.
A Program Designers First Step
- CREA competent course designers must begin by making assumptions that undergird culturally responsive evaluation. [***] DiversityEdu adopts these assumptions as principles for the design and evaluation of our courses:
- The role of diversity learning is to give full voice and equitable access to opportunity to learners from all backgrounds and self-defined identities.
- The experiences and points of view of DiversityEdu’s developers, sponsors, and learners is considered at every stage of program development.
- The content of DiversityEdu includes the knowledge, scholarship, critical theories, and experiences of underrepresented, indigenous and marginalized communities.
- DiversityEdu is designed to expand understanding of the nature of knowledge and the relationships between and among all stakeholders.
[*] I wish to thank Professor Stafford Hood, Professor of Curriculum & Instruction and Educational Psychology in the College of Education at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign and members of 2016 CREA conference committee for the opportunity to conduct a roundtable; and the participants at the DiversityEdu roundtable for generously sharing their expertise and thoughts.
[**] Hood, S., Hopson, R., and Frierson, H., Eds. (2015). Continuing the journey to reposition culture and cultural context in evaluation theory and practice. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing, Inc. Introduction, p. Ix.
[***] Mertens, D. M. & Zimmerman, H. (2015). A transformative framework for culturally responsive evaluation, in Hood, S., Hopson, R., and Frierson, H., Eds. (2015). Continuing the journey to reposition culture and cultural context in evaluation theory and practice, pp. 275-287.