Event facilitators: Eric Einspruch, PhD, & Jennifer Billman, PhD
In 1991 Shadish et al. challenged evaluators to address ontology and epistemology in their theories and practice despite recognition that most viewed both as “tangential to their work” (p. 42). In 2022, the American Evaluation Association (AEA) once again asks, “How must we challenge our own epistemological and ontological foundations to emerge in a new place that is more equitable?” Yet, for practitioners confronted with budget, time, data, and political constraints (Bamberger et al., 2012), time to work on a philosophical level to advance equity, social justice, and decolonization too often slips by.
As a prelude to their roundtable at the upcoming AEA annual conference, Jennifer Billman (HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College) and Eric Einspruch (ELE Consulting, LLC) are hosting an OPEN event that will create a co-learning space for us to share strategies for embedding ontological reflexivity throughout all phases of an evaluation.
The session will begin with a brief introduction to ontology and an overview of the ontological foundations of the major evaluation paradigms, drawing specific attention to differences between Western and Indigenous paradigms. Next, participants will participate in ontological self-reflection, identifying the realities most familiar to them and most prevalent in their decision-making throughout an evaluation. We will then step through each phase of an evaluation (i.e., preparation, design, sampling, data collection, analysis, and reporting), identifying key questions to consider for ensuring ontological validity (Billman, 2022) of the evaluation.
Participants will leave the session with an initial list of co-created ontologically reflexive questions and strategies to guide their work.
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Small Print: At the time of registration, participants provide permission to use the conversation to inform Jenn and Eric’s AEA presentation, as well as for a potential publication (that would be based in part on this conversation, the conversation during the AEA presentation, and possibly additional conversations with other AEA Local Affiliates or other groups). Participants will indicate if they want to be acknowledged in a future publication (if there is one).
Note: Due to the limited size of this event, registrants will be asked to cancel their registration if they are not able to attend, in order to make room for any waitlisted participants.