The Evolution of Action-Orientation in the Field of Community Psychology

February 15, 2020 — by Elizabeth McGee

Hello, I’m Elizabeth McGee, Co-Founder, and Senior Consultant at LEAP Consulting, where I help nonprofits, foundations, and public institutions achieve impact through meaningful evaluations and strategic support. Today, I want to delve into the evolution of action-orientation in the field of Community Psychology.

Lessons Learned 

A Community Psychologist embodies action-oriented principles when they are proactive and deliberate in supplying practical implications and concrete actions. In applied research or evaluation, our practice centers on generating ideas and tools that initiatives or communities can readily utilize.

Over the past ten years since completing my graduate training in Community Psychology, I have witnessed the evolution of action-orientation. In this context, I outline the three significant transformations I have observed.

Evolution 1: Co-Creation of Recommendations

10 Years Ago: Recommendations were crafted in isolation by the evaluator, solely based on collected evaluation data.

Now: Through collaborative efforts with clients and communities, I co-create recommendations, ensuring they reflect the perspectives and ideas of everybody involved. This approach contextualizes the data, solidifying the practicality of my recommendations and gaining the buy-in of all stakeholders.

Evolution 2: Learning

10 Years Ago: Learning hinged on the slim chance that a client read a long and dense evaluation report.

Now: In my current evaluation work, learning extends beyond a dry evaluation report. It’s an active process unfolding throughout a project, where stakeholders contribute and participate collectively, fostering a shared sense of ownership.

Evolution 3: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

10 years Ago: I learned to incorporate culturally appropriate methods and practices into my evaluation work.

Today, I prioritize creating inclusive environments. These environments are pivotal in my methods of collecting data, analyzing findings, and co-creating recommendations.

Evolutions do we anticipate in our practice as Community Psychologists?

What influence do we, as applied researchers, evaluators, and consultants, have?

What responsibility do we bear?

Originally posted on the American Evaluation Association 365 Blog on June 7, 2019.