Social Justice and Evaluation in Educational Settings

Session Number: FIE1
Track: Feminist Issues in Evaluation
Session Type: TIG Multipaper
Session Chair: Christine Fabian Bell [Evaluator - University of Wisconsin-Madison]
Presenter 1: Nancy Pellowski Wiger [Consultant - Miske Witt and Associates International]
Presenter 2: McKenzie Javorka, M.A. [Doctoral Student - Michigan State University]
Presenter 3: Roz Hirch [Research Associate - Iowa State University]
Presentation 3 Additional Author: Brandi N Geisinger [Research and Evaluation Scientist - Iowa State University]
Presentation 3 Additional Author: Robert Ressler
Time: Nov 15, 2019 (03:30 PM - 04:15 PM)
Room: Hilton Marquette VIII

Abstract 1 Title: Promoting equity and protection against shared risks of violence for women and children: Evaluating SRGBV interventions
Presentation Abstract 1:

There is growing momentum to address issues of school-related gender-based violence (SRGBV) to create learning environments that are safe, inclusive, gender-sensitive, and free from discrimination.  Root causes and reinforcing factors of SRGBV are embedded in social norms, gender discriminatory norms, and wider structural and contextual factors that reinforce one another and allow violence to occur and be sustained (UNGEI, 2018). This paper draws on the socio-ecological model and uses a gendered lens to analyze how the drivers of SRGBV are interrelated, and have led to increased sexual violence (particularly against women and children) in the context of Zimbabwe.  This paper then argues that evaluation of SRGBV interventions in Zimbabwe cannot solely focus on behavior change, but instead must measure whole school approaches that aim to tackle structural determinants (such as gender inequality) and work between and among different levels of society (such as the individual, family/relationship, school, and community).

Abstract 2 Title: Evaluation in a pressure cooker: The challenges of evaluating civil rights procedures in higher education
Presentation Abstract 2:

US universities are required by federal law to address civil rights violations that occur on campus, including instances of harassment and discrimination. Recently, universities have received negative public attention for their mishandling of civil rights investigations, especially regarding sexual harassment and assault (forms of discrimination under the federal Title IX statute). Most universities are therefore reticent to allow evaluation of their civil rights proceedings. After receiving national attention surrounding a high-profile sexual assault investigation, administrators at a large public university commissioned an evaluation to better understand people’s experiences with the university’s civil rights office. This session focuses on the ethical and methodological challenges of conducting an evaluation in this high-stakes context. Drawing on principles of both pragmatic and feminist evaluation paradigms, the evaluator will discuss the power dynamics of working with high-level university administrators as collaborative partners while bringing trauma-informed research practices to bear on evaluation design and methods.

Abstract 3 Title: A Delicate Balancing Act: Encouraging Stakeholders’ Participation in an Emotionally Charged Context
Presentation Abstract 3:

Despite the fact that departments and institutions widely claim to strive to be welcoming environments for diverse students and faculty, many departments and institutions have struggled with recruiting and retaining diverse populations. As a result, numerous departments and institutions are seeking climate evaluations to uncover systemic imbalances and find ways to create equitable environments. These types of evaluation studies can pose unique challenges. Evaluator propriety is key as stakeholders working and studying in these contexts are heavily invested. Potential repercussions for speaking out can be steep, particularly for minorities who may be concerned about identification. In this presentation, we discuss specific examples and challenges experienced from both evaluator and stakeholder standpoints, including obtaining buy-in to the process, creating motivation to participate, dealing with defensive responses, responding to concerns about confidentiality, and conducting emotionally charged interviews. We specifically focus on using program evaluation standards to reach balanced conclusions for program improvements.

Audience Level: All Audiences

Session Abstract (150 words): 

Social Justice and Evaluation in Educational Settings