Evaluation Book Reviewed by Teachers College Record

new book picA review of Dr. Stafford’s book with a chapter by Dr. Bowman, Continuing the Journey to Reposition Culture and Cultural Context in Evaluation Theory and Practice, was published in the prestigious Teachers College Record.

Teachers College Record, Date Published: June 22, 2016
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 21288, Date Accessed: 7/1/2016 9:06:14 AM


Continuing the Journey to Reposition Culture and Cultural Context in Evaluation Theory and Practice

reviewed by Dhani Shah — June 22, 2016

Title: Continuing the Journey to Reposition Culture and Cultural Context in Evaluation Theory and Practice
Author(s): Stafford Hood, Rodney Hopson & Henry Frierson
Publisher: Information Age Publishing, Charlotte
ISBN: 1623969352, Pages: 404, Year: 2014
Search for book at Amazon.com

Stafford Hood, Rodney Hopson, and Henry Frierson’s edited book, Continuing the Journey to Reposition Culture and Cultural Context in Evaluation Theory and Practice, advocates that cultural, racial, and ethnic diversity is one of the most salient features of contemporary society. Hence, they believe it is the right time for Culturally Responsive Evaluation (CRE), “evaluations and assessments that embody cognitive, cultural, and interdisciplinary diversity that are actively responsive to culturally diverse communities and their academic performance goals” (p. xiii). The focus of CRE is studying the context, history, and culture of an evaluated program and its participants and includes Indigenous communities in decision making throughout the evaluation. Thus, CRE is a theoretical, conceptual, and inherently political evaluation model that brings culture to the forefront in evaluation theory and practice. CRE emphasizes evaluation practice, which aims to achieve social justice and “address human bias through inclusion, relationships, and an orientation to context” (p. 180). Generally, human bias is based on our values, relationships, decisions, context, and culture and it can undermine the validity of evaluation processes. CRE keeps in mind the cultural beliefs, practices, norms, and values of any specific culture in which an evaluation is being implemented.

This book is an extension of introductory work on CRE. Back in 2005, the same three editors (Hood, Hopson, and Frierson) published a book titled, The Role of Culture and Cultural Context: A Mandate for Inclusion, the Discovery of Truth, and Understanding in Evaluative Theory and Practice (2005). In the initial version of this book the authors had “reflected the rapidly emerging and frequently contentious discourse on this topic (Culturally Responsive Evaluation) during the early years of this new millennium” (Hood, Hopson, & Frierson, 2015, p. xi).

Continuing the Journey to Reposition Culture is organized into five distinct sections including: a) “CRE Theoretical and Historical Legacies and Extensions,” b) “Evaluators’ Journeys of Introspection and Self-Exploration,” c) “Applications of CRE in Global and Indigenous School Contexts,” d) “Claiming New Territories of CRE: Culturally Specific Methods, Approaches, and Ecologies,” and e) “Epilogue.” In total, 50 experienced contributors have authored 17 chapters within these five book sections. This review treats this text holistically.

The initial chapters are devoted to setting the background for the CRE model which comprises understanding program context, engaging stakeholders, identifying the purpose(s) of evaluation, framing evaluation questions, designing an evaluation, selecting instruments, and collecting, analyzing, and interpreting data. Extending this discussion, the book deliberates the need for a systems approach to CRE practices and suggests using a system evaluation protocol (SEP) framework. System evaluation “refers to the assessment of functions, products, outcomes, and impacts of a system (set of programs, activities, or interventions)” (Trochim et al., 2012, p. 1).

After setting the stage for CRE, the book discusses the concept of validity in CRE; describing that historically validity is defined by dominant groups and has remained a powerful tool for establishing their legitimization. However, as per the Indigenous Evaluation Framework (IEF), validity does not necessarily have the same meaning across different cultural contexts. The authors in Chapter Three argue that although culture-free assessment has long been abandoned, “meaningful inclusion of culture in validation has not consistently followed” (p. 51).

The book includes a thorough discussion about different CRE methods, strategies, and frameworks by giving several examples of evaluation studies in different Indigenous cultural communities across the world. The book dedicates five chapters to CRE practices for MāoriIndigenous communities in Antearoa, New Zealand. The chapter authors also reflect on how a replication of these practices can be conducted for Indigenous communities in the U.S. and elsewhere. These chapters state that engagement and relationship-building rituals have a prime importance in Māori culture and are “grounded in relational trust and acceptance” (p. 95). Therefore, developmental evaluation practice, which is based on the respect of local cultures, their voices, and acknowledgement of cultural strengths, is a favored approach for the evaluation of Māori projects.

Furthermore, the book depicts the Kaupapa Māori (Māori way) paradigm. “Kaupapa Māori evaluation is an assertion of the right of Māori to conduct culturally responsive evaluations that are by, with and for Māori (p. 296). Likewise, Kaupapa Māori relates to a worldview that the Māori people bring to evaluation; it is prescribed in their cultural terms and supports Māori development, societal transformation, and decolonization. Māori evaluators typically have different axiological, ontological, and epistemological foundations than western-oriented evaluators.

In Chapter Ten, authors O’Hara, McNamara, and Harrison share that CRE also has implications for educational assessment methods. Their discussion starts with a study aimed at investigating educational assessment in a multicultural Irish society. The traditional evaluation practices in Irish schools are based on an inflexible model that is exclusive of CRE practices. Irish teachers consider the traditional assessment neither culturally responsive nor sensitive. They share that they are trained as teachers to push students through a public end-of-schooling examination that is predominantly Irish and relates to Irish culture. Every child is assessed on the same model even if he or she comes from a different culture. Therefore, the assessment is not based on the principles of multiculturalism and the Irish system would not serve ethnic minorities in the country very well.

This book is a very serious effort at advocating for the importance, understanding, and application of CRE. Different case studies, descriptions of several projects and programs in several Indigenous communities of New Zealand, the U.S. and other global contexts explain that CRE is one vehicle by which to conduct culture- and context-friendly evaluation practices. The book contains notes and a glossary at the end of several chapters to help the reader understand the context but it does not contain any corresponding exercises.

Continuing the Journey to Reposition Culture and Cultural Context is written using technical and theoretical language and may pose challenges for some readers. Nevertheless, the book is a great in-depth resource for researchers, evaluators, practitioners, students, and teachers who are engaged in anthropological and ethnographic teaching, research, and evaluation. It systematically advocates the case for CRE, its framework, importance, relevance, and applicability in a culturally diverse world.


Hood, S., Hopson, R., & Frierson, H. (2005). The role of culture and cultural context: A mandate for inclusion, the discovery of truth, and understanding in evaluative theory and practice. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.

Trochim, W., Urban, J. B., Hargraves, M., Hebbard, C., Buckley, J., Archibald, T., Johnson, M.,

& Burgermaster, M. (2012). The guide to the systems evaluation protocol. Ithaca, NY: Cornell Digital Print Services.

Buy Dr. Nicky’s Book!

Nicole Bowman coauthored a chapter in the NEW BOOK Continuing the Journey to Reposition Culture and Cultural Context in Evaluation Theory and Practice.  Visit BPC’s YouTube channel for previews of the publication and interviews with the authors.

Visit InfoAge Publishing to buy your copy now!

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“Racial, ethnic, linguistic, and cultural diversity has become of global importance in places where many never would have imagined. Increasing diversity in the U.S., Europe, Africa, New Zealand, and Asia strongly suggests that a homogeneity-based focus is rapidly becoming an historical artifact. Therefore, culturally responsive evaluation (CRE) should no longer be viewed as a luxury or an option in our work as evaluators. The continued amplification of racial, ethnic, linguistic, and cultural diversity and awareness among the populations of the U.S. and other western nations insists that social science researchers and evaluators inextricably engage culturally responsive approaches in their work. It is unacceptable for most mainstream university evaluation programs, philanthropic agencies, training institutes sponsored by federal agencies, professional associations, and other entities to promote professional evaluation practices that do not attend to CRE. Our global demographics are a reality that can be appropriately described and studied within the context of complexity theory and theory of change (e.g., Stewart, 1991; Battram, 1999). And this perspective requires a distinct shift from “simple” linear cause-effect models and reductionist thinking to include more holistic and culturally responsive approaches.

The development of policy that is meaningfully responsive to the needs of traditionally disenfranchised stakeholders and that also optimizes the use of limited resources (human, natural, and financial) is an extremely complex process. Fortunately, we are presently witnessing developments in methods, instruments, and statistical techniques that are mixed methods in their paradigm/designs and likely to be more effective in informing policymaking and decision-making. Culturally responsive evaluation is one such phenomenon that positions itself to be relevant in the context of dynamic international and national settings where policy and program decisions take place. One example of a response to address this dynamic and need is the newly established Center for Culturally Responsive Evaluation and Assessment (CREA) in the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

CREA is an outgrowth of the collective work and commitments of a global community of scholars and practitioners who have contributed chapters to this edited volume. It is an international and interdisciplinary evaluation center that is grounded in the need for designing and conducting evaluations and assessments that embody cognitive, cultural, and interdisciplinary diversity so as to be actively responsive to culturally diverse communities and their aspirations. The Center’s purpose is to address questions, issues, theories, and practices related to CRE and culturally responsive educational assessment. Therefore, CREA can serve as a vehicle for our continuing discourse on culture and cultural context in evaluation and also as a point of dissemination for not only the work that is included in this edited volume, but for the subsequent work it will encourage.

Introduction: This Is Where We Continue to Stand, Stafford Hood, Rodney Hopson, and Henry Frierson. SECTION I: CRE THEORETICAL AND HISTORICAL LEGACIES AND EXTENSIONS. Culturally Responsive Theory-Driven Evaluation, Katrina L. Bledsoe and Stewart I. Donaldson. A Systems Approach to Culturally Responsive Evaluation Practice: Culturally Responsive Uses of the Systems Evaluation Protocol (SEP), Wanda D. Casillas and William M. Trochim. Cultural Views of Validity: A Conversation, Joan LaFrance, Karen E. Kirkhart, and Richard Nichols. An Analysis of Love My Children: Rose Butler Browne’s Contributions to Culturally Responsive Evaluation, Pamela Frazier-Anderson and Tamara Bertrand Jones. SECTION II: EVALUATORS’ JOURNEYS OF INTROSPECTION AND SELF-EXPLORATION. Culture and Evaluation: From a Transcultural Belvedere, Jennifer C. Greene. Culturally Responsive Evaluation as a Resource for Helpful-Help, Hazel Symonette. Peeling Open the Kiwi: Reterritorializing (Pākehā/White) Evaluation in Aotearoa New Zealand, Rae Torrie, Mathea Roorda, Robin Peace, Mark Dalgety, and Robyn Bailey. Beginning a Conversation About Spirituality in Māori and Pasifika Evaluation, Vivienne Kennedy, Fiona Cram, Kirimatao Paipa, Kataraina Pipi, Maria Baker, Laurie Porima, Pale Sauni and Clark Tuagalu. Cultural Reactivity vs. Cultural Responsiveness: Addressing Macro Issues Starting With Micro Changes in Evaluation, Dominica McBride. SECTION III: APPLICATIONS OF CRE IN GLOBAL AND INDIGENOUS SCHOOL CONTEXTS. Culture Changes, Irish Evaluation and Assessment Traditions Stay the Same? Exploring Peer- and Self-Assessment as a Means of Empowering Ethnic Minority Students, Joe O’Hara, Gerry McNamara, Kathy Harrison. Implementing Culturally Sensitive Assessment Tools for the Inclusion Of Roma Children in Mainstream Schools,S. Mitakidou, E. Tressou, and P. Karagianni. Evaluating Alch’i’ni Ba/For the Children: The Troubled Cultural Work of an Indigenous Teacher Education Project, Carolyne J. White and Guy Senese. SECTION IV: CLAIMING NEW TERRITORIES OF CRE: CULTURALLY SPECIFIC METHODS, APPROACHES, AND ECOLOGIES. A Transformative Framework for Culturally Responsive Evaluation, Donna M. Mertens and Heather Zimmerman. Being Culturally Responsive Through Kaupapa Māori Evaluation, Fiona Cram, Vivienne Kennedy, Kirimatao Paipa, Kataraina Pipi, and Nan Wehipeihana. Culturally Responsive Methods for Family Centered Evaluation, Kirimatao Paipa, Fiona Cram, Vivienne Kennedy, and Kataraina Pipi. Culturally Responsive Indigenous Evaluation: A Practical Approach for Evaluating Indigenous Projects in Tribal Reservation Contexts, Nicole R. Bowman, Carolee Dodge Francis, and Monique Tyndall. Partnering with Pacific Communities to Ground Evaluation in Local Culture and Context: Promises and Challenges, Joan LaFrance, Sharon Nelson-Barber, Elizabeth D. Rechebei, and Janet Gordon.Epilogue: Toward the Next Generation and New Possibilities of Culturally Responsive Evaluation, Stafford Hood, Rodney Hopson, and Henry Frierson.”