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Cultural Approaches to Evaluating Indigenous Early Intervention Programs: A Case Study of Aboriginal Head Start Open Access


Other title
early childhood education
culturally appropriate program evaluation
Aboriginal Head Start
Aboriginal early childhood development
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Robertson, Eloise L
Supervisor and department
Prochner, Larry (Elementary Education)
Examining committee member and department
Kirova, Anna (Elementary Education)
Stewart-Harawira, Makere (Educational Policy Studies)
Ryan, Sharon ( Rutgers Graduate School of Education)
Gardner, Ethel (Elementary Education)
Prochner, Larry (Elementary Education)
Department of Elementary Education

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
There is a dearth of research on early childhood development (ECD) programs for Canadian Indigenous children and little has been written about their evaluation; many researchers argue that assessments concerning Indigenous children and programs require culturally appropriate approaches. Aboriginal Head Start in Urban and Northern Communities (AHSUNC), a culturally based program, supports children’s cognitive, social, physical, emotional, and cultural development. I use a narrative approach to describe the development process and subsequent methodology for the 2003-2006 AHSUNC national impact evaluation, and apply interpretive methods to explore efficacy and cultural relevance in the evaluation design and development phase, its methodology, and the dissemination of its findings. The overarching research question, Is the AHSUNC national impact evaluation approach and methodology an instructive model for impact evaluation studies on Indigenous early childhood programs?, is examined hermeneutically and critically in this study through lenses of (a) cultural responsiveness, (b) concepts of school readiness, (c) relationships between policy, programs and evaluations, and (d) related emerging ECD literature. The study uses an interpretive framework to develop a comprehensive understanding of the issues and their complex relationships. I adapt Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological model as a conceptual theory, and draw on Indigenous Perspectives to inform cross-cultural methodology and interpretations. The “texts” for the dialectic process include national and international documents related to ECD, social justice, and to Indigenous Peoples, as well as the propositions of Indigenous and ECD scholars, with particular attention to their relationships to the AHS evaluation process. My findings have potential to inform empowering, participatory evaluation designs for cross-cultural ECD programs, and to identify directions for future research. Throughout, I reflect on my position as etic researcher.
This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for the purpose of private, scholarly or scientific research. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
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File title: Mouse Woman Takes a Cultural Approach to Evaluating Indigenous Early Intervention Programs
File author: Eloise Lynne Robertson
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