The Apex Blend
The broad spectrum of experience and expertise held by Apex allows us to find methods and approaches best suited to help your organization achieve its goals. Our portfolio is diverse, from highly structured projects with large quantitative datasets to developmental evaluative strategies that help your organization chart a path forward. We call this adaptive approach the Apex Blend.
Systems Thinking and Systems Evaluation
Systems evaluation is rooted in systems thinking, which was developed by Derek and Laura Cabrera. Systems thinking considers the complex factors inherent in the larger system in which a program is embedded. It is a foundational framework. Systems evaluation appropriately matches evaluation methods to the mental models being tested, giving special attention to the role perspectives play in emergent learning.
There are many definitions of equitable evaluation, but our take is simply that equitable evaluation is being mindful of the role perspective plays in learning. In practicing this, we maintain an awareness that evaluation is itself a perspective and must include and account for the diversity of voices involved in or affected by the mental model being evaluated.
Developmental evaluation, developed by Michael Quinn Patton, is appropriate for innovative initiatives implemented in dynamic and complex environments where participants, conditions, interventions, and contexts are in flux and pathways for achieving desired outcomes are subject to change. This method supports reality-testing, innovation, and adaptation in complex dynamic systems where relationships among critical elements are nonlinear and emergent.
Principles-focused evaluation, also developed by Quinn Patton, examines (1) whether the principles that guide a program or organization are clear, meaningful, and actionable, and if so, (2) whether such principles are actually being followed and, if so, (3) whether they are leading to desired results. Principles-focused evaluation is an evolution of developmental evaluation and helps navigate the volatile, uncertain, and dynamic complex environments that characterize equity work. It helps shift the perspective from, “Are we doing things right?” to, “Are we doing the right things?”
Data visualization is much more than making data look good. It is about understanding the cognition of how humans process information and move from pre-attention to long-term memory to actually building knowledge. These techniques produce user-friendly reports and products to stimulate thinking and understanding.
Our Commitment to Equitable Evaluation
“Culturally responsive and equitable evaluation (CREE) requires the integration of diversity, inclusion, and equity in all phases of evaluation. CREE incorporates cultural, structural, and contextual factors (e.g. historical, social, economic, racial, ethnic, gender) using a participatory process that shifts power to individuals most impacted.” (Expanding the Bench)
Apex president and CEO Carlos Romero explains how organizations can foster internal support for CREE. In this portion of the CREE Learning Series, he shares Apex’s approach to building knowledge of CREE through various elements, from creating a CREE vision to applying methods that align with this approach.