Ethics and Program Evaluation:
Grounded in Social Justice
Donna M. Mertens
Gallaudet University
Washington Evaluators
Febr...
Sources for grounding ethics in
social justice
Fundamental ethical questions
• What is the ethically proper way to
collect, process, and report research
[evaluation] dat...
Fundamental question
• What ethical considerations are
imposed by the pre-existing social
context in which any specific pi...
Transformative Paradigm & Ethics
(Mertens, Holmes & Harris, 2009;
Mertens, 2009)
• Paradigm – worldview composed of basic
...
Transformative Paradigm & Ethics
• Axiology
• Social justice
• Human rights
• Respect for cultural norms

• Axiology is th...
ETHICS: Court Access for Deaf and
Hard of Hearing People
• “Keep your hands at your sides.”
• “The case was dismissed; som...
5 level model of ethics in research
Kitchener & Kitchener, 2009, p. 9
• Particular cases – ordinary moral
sense
• Ethical ...
Transformative Paradigm
Particular Cases
• Particular cases – ordinary moral sense
• Cultural issues
• Maori (Cram, 2009);...
Transformative Paradigm
Ethical Rules
• Institutional Review Boards – protects
the individual & the institution
• Indigeno...
Transformative Paradigm
Ethical Principles: Beneficence
• Transformative questions
• Who benefits? Reciprocity?
• Communit...
Transformative Paradigm
Ethical Principles: Respect
• Cultural meanings: Maori – reveal
yourself & your connections (Cram)...
Transformative Paradigm
Ethical Principles: Justice
• Nondiscrimination in participation &
benefit
• Address issues of div...
Social Justice & Dimensions of
Diversity
• Myth of homogeneity (Mertens, 2005)
• Sampling with dimensions of diversity in
...
Diversity and Sampling Strategies

Example: Deaf/HH court access
• Communication - languages and modes:
•
•
•
•
•

America...
We…need enhanced understandings of
related systemic processes of
asymmetric power relations and
privilege, not simply awar...
Transformative Paradigm
Ethical Theories
• Utilitarianism – the greatest good
• Rights-based theories - individual-based;
...
Transformative Paradigm
Meta-Ethics
• Critically engaging in discourse about
ethics
• Fostering involvement of diverse voi...
Power issues & Methodological
Assumptions
• Determination of the evaluation
focus, planning, implementation
and use from a...
Cyclical model for Transformative Research (Mertens, in press)

Community Participation
References
• Mertens, D. M. & Ginsberg, P. (2009). (Eds.)
Handbook of Social Research Ethics.
Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
• M...
Contact information
• Donna M. Mertens
• Gallaudet University
• Donna.Mertens@Gallaudet.edu
Principles
Beneficence

APA/IRB
Maximize good
outcomes;
minimize harm

Transformative
Promote human rights

Respect

Respe...
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Ethics and Program Evaluation: Grounded in Social Justice

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Washington Evaluators Brown Bag
by Donna Mertens
February 19, 2009

Published in: Education, Business, Technology
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Ethics and Program Evaluation: Grounded in Social Justice

  1. 1. Ethics and Program Evaluation: Grounded in Social Justice Donna M. Mertens Gallaudet University Washington Evaluators February 2009
  2. 2. Sources for grounding ethics in social justice
  3. 3. Fundamental ethical questions • What is the ethically proper way to collect, process, and report research [evaluation] data? • How should social scientists behave with respect to their research subjects [evaluation participants]? (Kitchener &Kitchener, 2009, p. 6) • Answers: codes of ethics, federal guidelines, general ethical principles
  4. 4. Fundamental question • What ethical considerations are imposed by the pre-existing social context in which any specific piece of research [evaluation] is contemplated? (Ginsberg & Mertens, 2009, p. 582) • Answers: dependent on paradigm, evaluation focus, population, methodology
  5. 5. Transformative Paradigm & Ethics (Mertens, Holmes & Harris, 2009; Mertens, 2009) • Paradigm – worldview composed of basic belief systems with regard to • • • • Ethics – axiology Ontology – reality Epistemology – knowledge Methodology – systematic inquiry
  6. 6. Transformative Paradigm & Ethics • Axiology • Social justice • Human rights • Respect for cultural norms • Axiology is the driving force for the other sets of belief associated with the transformative paradigm
  7. 7. ETHICS: Court Access for Deaf and Hard of Hearing People • “Keep your hands at your sides.” • “The case was dismissed; something to do with how you reported the crime” • Jail time for seatbelt violation • “If you can speak that well, you don’t need any accommodations” (Mertens, 2000) What is of importance here? Ethics = Social Justice = Transformative Evaluation
  8. 8. 5 level model of ethics in research Kitchener & Kitchener, 2009, p. 9 • Particular cases – ordinary moral sense • Ethical rules - codes; laws • Ethical principles – beneficence; respect • Ethical theory – utilitarianism; rights based theories • Meta-ethics – study of ethics
  9. 9. Transformative Paradigm Particular Cases • Particular cases – ordinary moral sense • Cultural issues • Maori (Cram, 2009); African (Chilisa, 2009) • Deafness (Mertens et al., 2009; Harris, Holmes, & Mertens, 2009) • Raises questions of power; unearned privilege; discrimination & oppression
  10. 10. Transformative Paradigm Ethical Rules • Institutional Review Boards – protects the individual & the institution • Indigenous IRBs (LaFrance & Crazy Bull, 2009): conflicts • Community advisory boards (LGBTQ, Dodd, 2009) • Professional codes of ethics: Revisions & controversies (APA, AEA, NASW, ASA, AAA)
  11. 11. Transformative Paradigm Ethical Principles: Beneficence • Transformative questions • Who benefits? Reciprocity? • Community ownership? • Generate knowledge/Enhance social justice? • Responsibility for use? Publish/social change? • Accessible formats?
  12. 12. Transformative Paradigm Ethical Principles: Respect • Cultural meanings: Maori – reveal yourself & your connections (Cram) • Adversarial communities - openness (peace polling, Irwin, 2009; school evaluation, Howe & MacGillivary, 2009); making visible hegemonic power structures (Kendall, 2006)
  13. 13. Transformative Paradigm Ethical Principles: Justice • Nondiscrimination in participation & benefit • Address issues of diversity • Power & status issues around dimensions of diversity: language; disability; gender; race/ethnicity
  14. 14. Social Justice & Dimensions of Diversity • Myth of homogeneity (Mertens, 2005) • Sampling with dimensions of diversity in mind: Who needs to be included? How can people be included in the most appropriate way? • But, is an African an African an African? (Chilisa, 2005) • Is a person with a disability a person with a disability a person with a disability? (Mertens & McLaughlin, 2004)
  15. 15. Diversity and Sampling Strategies Example: Deaf/HH court access • Communication - languages and modes: • • • • • American Sign Language; highly educated ASL; limited education Gesture/pantomime/limited signing/low literacy Deaf/blind Hard of hearing people with assistive listening devices • Oral deaf adults • Mexican sign language • Other dimensions of diversity: gender, race/ethnicity; status with court
  16. 16. We…need enhanced understandings of related systemic processes of asymmetric power relations and privilege, not simply awareness and knowledge of difference and diversity… Hazel Symonette (2004). How and to what extent is sociocultural diversity associated with patterned differences in access, resource opportunities, and life chances?” (p. 108)
  17. 17. Transformative Paradigm Ethical Theories • Utilitarianism – the greatest good • Rights-based theories - individual-based; dignity and respect • Social justice theories – societal level; inclusion of those denied access to power • Commensurate theories with ethical implications: feminists, critical race theory, queer theory, post-colonial, indigenous theories
  18. 18. Transformative Paradigm Meta-Ethics • Critically engaging in discourse about ethics • Fostering involvement of diverse voices • Recognition of issues of power • Preparation of new evaluators • Role of the evaluator (advocate?)
  19. 19. Power issues & Methodological Assumptions • Determination of the evaluation focus, planning, implementation and use from a transformative ethical stance • Power can be reframed in transformative evaluation
  20. 20. Cyclical model for Transformative Research (Mertens, in press) Community Participation
  21. 21. References • Mertens, D. M. & Ginsberg, P. (2009). (Eds.) Handbook of Social Research Ethics. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. • Mertens, D. M. (2005). Research and evaluation in education and psychology: Integrating diversity with qual, quant and mixed methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. • Mertens, D. M. (2009). Transformative research & evaluation. NY: Guilford
  22. 22. Contact information • Donna M. Mertens • Gallaudet University • Donna.Mertens@Gallaudet.edu
  23. 23. Principles Beneficence APA/IRB Maximize good outcomes; minimize harm Transformative Promote human rights Respect Respect, courtesy, autonomy Cultural Norms; Trust Justice Benefits accrue to those at risk Further social justice Ethical Norms evaluation design Valid Action Community participation evaluator competent In specific method Quantitative, qualitative, mixed methods; community relations Consequences Privacy; well-being Social action Sampling Representative of population Dimensions of diversity identified and supported Participant agreement Informed consent Culturally appropriate; community involvement

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