Update: Office of Assessment and Evaluation (OAE)

In this prior blog post, I introduced the work of the Nipwaayoni Acquisition and Assessment Team (I will refer to it as the NAATeam), including our history, goals, and future plans. I want to first assure you that nothing has changed with those regards. However, there has been some reorganization within the Myaamia Center to accommodate growing assessment and evaluation needs of myaamia community programs. This post will update you on the status and exciting progress of our new office!

Identification of a Need

Over the last few years, the Miami Tribe and the Myaamia Center have continued to experience increases in requests for additional social and educational programming. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased our ability to provide remote programming to participants. This was obviously beneficial when we could not physically gather during the pandemic, but there has been a long-standing need to reach folks who cannot travel to tribal gatherings or educational programming due to any number of reasons (travel or financial limitations, for example). 

Screenshot of participants at the 2021 Miami Tribe of Oklahoma Fall Gathering.
Screenshot of Remote Fall Gathering 2021
Photo by Kristina Fox

We recognized that the needs for assessment and evaluation would also continue to grow exponentially as more and more programs are developed. Assessment and evaluation are critical processes in the formation and ongoing development of programs to ensure that they are meeting their goals and impacting the community in desired ways. However, assessment and evaluation is needed to communicate effectiveness and need for programs with funding and other supporting agencies. The expansion of assessment and evaluation efforts will help to support the infrastructure required to make new programming sustainable for years to come.

Development of the Office of Assessment and Evaluation (OAE)

Therefore, the Myaamia Center began to brainstorm ways to facilitate the expansion of assessment and evaluation efforts. Originally, the NAATeam did not have a true administrative “home” within the Myaamia Center. Duties of the NAATeam did not fall under any one office’s purview and we reported directly to the director (Daryl Baldwin). However, the work of NAATeam interacts with all other offices, but also is distinct, so it became clear we needed our own office. 

The first task was to identify the components of assessment and evaluation that were needed. We identified the following assessment and evaluation needs: 

  1. Program Evaluation: to determine how effective the programs are at meeting their identified goals. 
  2. NAAT (Community Assessment): to continue the intended purpose of NAATeam with assessing the impact that language and cultural revitalization has on both the community and on individuals. 
  3. Language Assessment and Evaluation: to create a model for the assessment of language acquisition within the tribal community. 

The NAATeam had been trying to incorporate portions of each of these into our work up until this point. However, with the establishment of the OAE, we now have highly specialized teams who are specifically trained within each of these areas. These three teams are able to now work together to generate holistic assessment and evaluation protocols to dive into each of these desired areas.

Diagram showing the relationship between the NAAT, Program Evaluation Team, Language Team, and supporting partners.
Diagram of OAE teams and partners’ scope of work
Image created by Carole Katz

Expanding the Team 

As we developed these three distinct teams within the office, we knew that we were going to need additional ongoing support to make this sustainable. Drs. Susan Mosley-Howard and Haley Shea are still co-chairs of the NAATeam. However, to fill the gaps within the NAATeam, we also have brought on a new faculty affiliate from the Public Health program at Miami University to consult on health-related assessment work. 

The National Breath of Life (NBoL) program housed at the Myaamia Center had already been enlisting the assistance of the Discovery Center at Miami University for evaluation purposes. Because of this positive existing relationship, we decided that bringing on two members part-time to assist with the program evaluation component of OAE work would be mutually beneficial. Both of these team members provide expertise regarding program evaluation that rounds out the OAE quite well.

Additionally, we wanted to recognize and employ the unique talent and expertise brought by one of the original NAAT members, Dr. Tracy Hirata-Edds. Because of her knowledge within second language acquisition (among many other areas), it quickly became clear that she would be the most appropriate person to spearhead the language assessment and evaluation work within the OAE.

Overall, we are incredibly excited and grateful for this expansion and the additions to our team. 

Team Members

I asked each of the team members to share a photo and quote to represent their work and expertise pertaining to the OAE. So, below you can see the introductions of each team member in their own words, some with significant history with the tribal community and others who are beginning their journey with us. If you see them at an event in the future, feel free to say hello!

Professional headshot of Dr. Susan Mosley-Howard

 Dr. Susan Mosley-Howard

“During my time at Miami University, it has been an honor to work with the Myaamia Center and Tribal community as a faculty researcher and dean. I first established my relationship with the tribal community dating back to 2003, and since then have worked more intensively with Daryl and the MC team on research for over a decade. My role is to support the research agenda as a co-chair of our assessment and evaluation office, and carry out assessment efforts to validate the language and culture revitalization work of the Tribe.”

Professional headshot of Dr. Haley Shea

Dr. Haley Shea

“As a myaamia community member, I feel honored to be able to give back to my tribal community through service in the Office of Assessment and Evaluation and on the Nipwaayoni Acquisition and Assessment Team. I know this work promotes the longevity of the language and cultural revitalization efforts and connects me with so many community members and academics. I am grateful to know and speak with so many of you.”

Professional headshot of Dr. Tracy Hirata-Edds

Dr. Tracy Hirata-Edds

“More than a decade ago, I had the good fortune to meet and work with Daryl Baldwin through “Oklahoma Breath of Life Silent No More” Workshops and am grateful for the opportunity now to support myaamia revitalization endeavors through work with the Myaamia Center. To help improve and enhance the development of second language teaching and learning, I draw on assessment and evaluation measures to provide feedback for strengthening tribal programs. The collaborative nature of the MC, the extraordinary people who work here, and the meaningfulness of the efforts make this a special place to be associated with, and I look forward to our work together.”

Professional headshot of Kristen Morio

Kristen Morio, M.A.T.

“Since our first National Breath of Life evaluation meeting, in 2015, every time I get to work with Daryl and the Myaamia Center team, I get excited. Applying my extensive experience in research design, proposal development, project and program management/monitoring, qualitative data collection and analysis, and technical and evaluation reporting to the Myaamia Center’s work in revitalizing the Miami language and culture is one of the most fulfilling things I’ve ever done! There’s no better feeling than working with amazing people, on such important and meaningful work!” 

Professional headshot of Alison Slaughter

Alison Slaughter, M.S.

“I have been providing evaluation services for a variety of Myaamia Center projects since I started at the Discovery Center in 2017. Using my expertise in instrument development, modification, and testing, as well as quantitative data collection, cleaning, and analysis, I have been able to help the evaluation team provide evidence of progress and impact related to the Myaamia Center’s language revitalization efforts. I have enjoyed applying my skills to this meaningful work, and have learned about the importance of developing a mutually-beneficial partnership with the Myaamia team to evaluate their work. It has been an amazing experience, and I am fortunate to work with this wonderful group of people!”

Professional headshot of Dr. Paul Branscum

Dr. Paul Branscum

“My name is Paul Branscum, and I am excited about joining the Myaamia Center as a new Affiliate! I am a Registered Dietitian by initial training, and then moved to a more health behavior/health promotion focus. My research focuses on predicting and changing obesogenic behaviors among children, parents and young adults. I am also interested in issues related to measuring factors such as motivation, attitudes, norms and self-efficacy. I look forward to contributing to the center in the years to come.” 


We hope that you are as excited as we are to see the continued development of our office and the many opportunities this expansion of our team affords our work. Everything we do is rooted first and foremost within the tribal community. We hope to make a small contribution to the ongoing strengthening of language and cultural revitalization and the resulting social and educational programming.

If you have any questions or want to connect with our office, feel free to reach out to Haley Shea at strassha@miamioh.edu


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