Evaluation in Minority Communities: Culturally Engaged Evaluation. Anthony J. Alberta Sonoran Research Group. Collaborators. NDNS4Wellness, American Indian Prevention Coalition Bonny Beach, John Whiteshirt, Jr., John Whiteshirt, Sr., Boyd Tsosie,Sr., Boyd Tsosie, Jr.
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Culturally Engaged Evaluation
Anthony J. Alberta
Sonoran Research Group
NDNS4Wellness, American Indian Prevention Coalition
Bonny Beach, John Whiteshirt, Jr., John Whiteshirt, Sr.,
Boyd Tsosie,Sr., Boyd Tsosie, Jr.
Larry Robinson, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community
Elizabeth Stadick, Valle del Sol
Ramon Valle, San Diego State University
Sonoran Evaluation Group
The presentation of these ideas is meant to convey my personal respect for the cultures, communities and people who have allowed us to work with them to develop new ways of knowing.
I specifically intend to speak about my experiences trying to integrate indigenous wisdom and scientific knowledge, not to speak for anyone with whom we have worked.
United States Department of Health and Human Services,
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration,
Center for Substance Abuse Treatment
Center for Substance Abuse Prevention
Center for Mental Health Services
TI13309, TI4254, TI14051, SMS4814
(My primary experience is with U.S. variant of Western European Culture)
Minority Community: A social unit whose access to power/resources is limited because their physical and cultural attributes do not conform to those established as “normal”, “good”, or “right” by a dominant community.
Dominant Community: A social unit who have asserted control over definitions of “normal”, “good”, or “right” and use these definitions as the basis for allocating power/resources.
“I came, I saw, I conquered.”
During the past twenty years, a rich literature concerning the affects of culture on the outcomes associated with behavioral health interventions.
Sue, D. W., et al, 1982; Cross et al., 1989; Isaacs & Benjamin, 1991; Davis, 1997.
This work relies on a now widely recognized tripartite model of cultural competence through:
Awareness of Cultural Differences
Knowledge of Another Culture
Specific Skills for Acting Competently
In more recent literature, a number of authors have noted the value of recognizing communities’ strengths and the necessary role that members of minority communities must play in the definition of cultural competence.
Delgado, 1998; Reynolds, 2001; Sue, 2001
These same concepts can inform our practice of evaluation in communities with cultural foundations outside that of the dominant, western European culture.
Customs and Practices
Acknowledgment of Wisdom
Although many authors refer to communication skills as a necessary component of culturally competent interactions, these references typify the “specific skill” approach referred to above.
Thomason (1991) for example, describes a specific approach to initiating counseling with American Indians;
Delgado (1998) refers to the importance of language and other methods of conveying thought and meaning in Latino culture
Locke (1989) discusses specific methods for addressing differences in speech patterns between African-American children and school counselors.
Culturally engaged evaluation calls for the use of observation to adopt the communication style of the people or person immediately at hand.
The model refers to “affective communication” because language represents both an important aspect of cultural competence and, at times, an overrated one.
Members of different cultural groups, for example, may share a language but still experience a sense of disaffection in their relationships with one another.
This example also demonstrates the difference between cultural competence (the ability to speak the language of another culture) and cultural engagement (the ability to effectively interact with members of an unfamiliar culture).
Western European culture presupposes the development of professional relationships based on credentials, market-based criteria and other “objective” factors
Indigenous cultures, on the other hand, tend to rely more heavily on personal relationships as the foundation for professional relationships (Ramirez, 1998, pp 18 - 21).
At times, evaluators confuse “methodology” with “objectivity”.
Evaluators seeking to practice successfully in multi-cultural situations, then, should consciously set out to establish personal relationships with members of the communities in which they work.
Described by Myers (1988), diunital reasoning is the skill of recognizing the validity of two competing, even exclusionary, world views. In some of the cross-cultural psychological literature diunital reasoning is sometimes known as cognitive dissonance (Valle, 1998).
Evaluators can use a number of resources to develop an understanding of the customs and practices of a culture other than their own.
Any of these sources may provide either erroneous information, or information that does not accurately describe the practices of a particular subgroup of some larger cultural group.
As a result, evaluators cannot rely solely on any source outside the members of a specific cultural milieu as they enter culturally unfamiliar territory.
In Culturally Engaged Evaluation, understanding customs and practices begins with observation. Within the model, observation consists of three distinct components:
Identifying patterns of behavior;
Identifying the values and expectations that underlie the behavior;
Using the information to enlarge one’s understanding of the world view supported by the culture (Valle, 1998).
Community-based advisory groups comprised of members of the community involved in the evaluation can help select methods, review instruments, and guide evaluators as they work in the community.
Members of the advisory group may also become involved in letting community members know about the evaluation – it’s purpose, what it means for the services, and what it means for the community.
“I’m trying to figure out how to work your science thing into what I know to be true about the world.”
Boyd Tsosie, Sr.
Indigenous communities have always created knowledge.
That’s “knowledge”, not “folklore”.
This knowledge has included individual technological innovations such as:
As well as entire fields of knowledge, including things like:
Indigenous cultures also developed knowledge with regard to healing practices.
The teleological, holistic and collectivist approach of indigenous healing practices capitalizes on the demonstrated role of expectation, belief, and human relationship in the healing process.
1. 50% of the effect of anti-depressants has nothing to do with the medication.
'Listening to Prozac but Hearing Placebo' Sapirstein and Kirsch, presented at the 104th convention of the American Psychological Association, 1996.
2. Open administration makes pain killers work better.
Response Variability to Analgesics... Amanzio et al, Pain, 90 (2001) 205-15.
What’s my point?
Indigenous knowledge is as valid and legitimate as scientifically derived knowledge.
Asking community members to share their community’s wisdom with us – and incorporating that wisdom into our work - begins to address the power imbalance that defines relationships between “majority” and “minority” community members.
Applying Culturally Engaged Evaluation, then, may lead to the development of new ways of knowing through the integration of indigenous and scientific knowledge.
One might think of the model as a circle, with each of the skills fused with the others and forming a whole. Failure to employ one of the skills will break the circle and significantly reduce one’s ability to conduct culturally engaged practice.
Acknowledgment of Wisdom
Customs and Practices
Culturally Engaged Evaluation