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Session Title

Using activist assessment and evaluation for socially just educational environments: It works if you work it!

Session Times

Tuesday, May 28: 9:00-11:30 a.m. and 1:30-5:30 p.m.

Wednesday, May 29: 8:30-11:30 a.m.


Too often, well meaning, well-intentioned initiatives have unintended problematic impacts that result in the social costs of accepting help being too high. With little consequence for ourselves, we do violence to others' truths when we fail to cultivate the self as an open, diversity-conscious, equity-minded, and expansively learning-centered, responsive instrument. Doing so requires dynamic self-in context assessments along with appropriate engagement of our own lenses, filters, frames, and social locations. Without such vigilant attention, our capacity to do excellent boundary-spanning work suffers greatly. Truly offering helpful-help requires deep understandings of the self in dynamically diverse contexts within power and privilege/oppression hierarchies at a single point in time and also our understandings of the contexts embodied in the self across time. Help is helpful when responsive to and congruent with the needs and vantage points of the persons being helped, given the success vision. 

Activist assessment/evaluation provides generative resources for this work. It involves systematic evidence-grounded inquiry for making judgments about merit, worth, value, significance, and congruence in the service of action research. Action research involves actively participating in a change situation while simultaneously conducting research.  

This institute uses an integral educator model to help us enliven theory u as we move beyond “ego-system” work towards more socially just “eco-system” orientations, agendas, and pathways. It introduces a multi-level systematic inquiry and reflective practice framework: Self-to-Self (intrapersonal), Self-to-Others (interpersonal), and Self-to-Systems (social structures and systems). We will weave together three key rhythms that help us holistically serve as responsive instruments for more diverse, equitable and socially just educational environments and systems: Work-WITH vs Work-ON * Letting GO vs Letting COME * Calling-IN vs Calling-OUT.


Hazel Louise Symonette, PhD, Evaluation Facilitator, Wisconsin Center for Education Research/the Learning through Evaluation University of Wisconsin