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Tuesday, September 17 • 2:30pm - 3:00pm
Ethics unveiled: Foregrounding who is holding the box in the evaluation of higher education equity programs

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Penny Jane Burke (Centre of Excellence for Equity in Higher Education, The University of Newcastle), Matthew Lumb (Centre of Excellence for Equity in Higher Education, The University of Newcastle), Rhyall Gordon (Centre of Excellence for Equity in Higher Education, The University of Newcastle)

Evaluation is a highly contested field, with animated debates about appropriate methods and frameworks, as well as complex methodological dilemmas and considerations. This paper shares our journey in translating an innovative ‘Pedagogical Methodology’ (Burke and Lumb, 2018) into evaluation practice in the context of equity in higher education. By opening up participation in the evaluation process, we sought to draw on the knowledge of participants within a Children’s University outreach program. With a commitment to valuing the knowledge of participants in programs, and to explore aspects of power in the question of ‘Who should hold the box?’ in terms of evaluation, we engaged Fraser’s (1996) social justice framework of recognition, redistribution and representation. In pursuing this approach, we critically examined discourses relating to what constitutes credible evidence of impact and the ways in which certain discourses can create the conditions for decontextualized and dehumanizing regimes of evaluation.

This paper is situated in the context of Equity and Widening Participation practice in Australia where evaluation commonly involves “measuring the easily measurable” (Harrison, 2018). Our efforts to reframe evaluation sought to examine what was outside the ‘box’ of the easily measurable. We did this by working with participants to foreground what it is they valued and how this understanding can enrich the re/development of university equity initiatives. Aligned to our University’s equity and social justice principles, we shifted emphasis to seeking representation of the perspectives of those whose values have been historically discounted or under-represented, rather than the assessment of what is valuable about equity programs being only a reflection of those in privileged or powerful positions.


Marion Norton

Manager Research and Evaluation, Qld DJAG


Matthew Lumb

Associate Director, Centre of Excellence for Equity in Higher Education
Matt's interest in evaluation developed through experiences as both a community development professional and classroom teacher. With colleagues at the Centre of Excellence for Equity in Higher Education, he works to foreground the politics of value and knowledge at play in processes... Read More →
avatar for Rhyall Gordon

Rhyall Gordon

Praxis Officer, The Centre of Excellence for Equity in Higher Education
Rhyall Gordon works in the role of Praxis Officer for the Centre of Excellence for Equity in Higher Education at the University of Newcastle. His role involves developing initiatives to support the exchange between theory and practice in the context of equity projects both with the... Read More →

Tuesday September 17, 2019 2:30pm - 3:00pm AEST