This seminar will address the principles and practices of monitoring and evaluation in international and domestic contexts. International development and domestic funding agencies call for systematically conducted and thoughtful monitoring and evaluation of programs and projects. In addition, monitoring and evaluating work-in-progress represents good practice and provides opportunities for programmatic and organizational learning. We will review key principles of M&E, examining the processes of building relationships with key stakeholders; collaboratively understanding the theory of action embedded in programs and projects; developing valuable and interesting indicators and benchmarks; and implementing specific methods to generate useful information. The final product for the course will be the design of a monitoring and evaluation plan for an actual project. To be able to provide experience in the practice of M&E, we will rely on materials from the Kellogg Foundation and one of its funded projects as a case example. Other agencies’ approaches to M&E will also be explored. CARE International, the National Science Foundation, and UNDP all have excellent M&E materials and are likely candidates for further exploration.
The course will briefly focus on specific methods for conducting monitoring and evaluation activities, although the course is not a course in research methods per se. It will be helpful, however, if students have some basic familiarity with the conceptual logic and core constructs of experimental or survey (quantitative) social science and of constructivist or interpretivist (qualitative) social science.
Organization and Teaching Strategies
The course is organized into three clusters. The first focuses on the theory, processes, and methods of PAR through readings, case analyses, and written and in-class activities. The second cluster focuses on the specific methods and activities in four contexts (communities, organizations, schools, and rural areas) for conducting a PAR project. In this cluster, we examine the methods of inquiry and action integral to PAR, providing opportunities to practice the methods through in-class activities. In the final cluster, the focus shifts to developing a set of critical criteria for assessing when, why, and how to use the methods in a specific project.
The teaching strategies for the course are based on the principle that opportunities to practice, critically analyze, and reflect are integral to learning. To that end, the course provides experiences to practice some of the various methods of PAR. On-going participatory projects will also offer laboratories for engaging in specific methods. We will also rely on cases that depict participatory projects; these draw from a variety of sectors and cultural contexts.
Required texts and Other Readings
The texts are available at Food for Thought Books, N. Pleasant St., Amherst. In addition to these texts, we will use a course pack of collected readings and several documents that are available on the Internet. The course pack will be available for purchase in class. I expect you to download the Internet documents and print them out to bring to class.
Bakewell, O., with J. Adams and B. Pratt. (November 2003). Sharpening the development process: A practical guide to monitoring and evaluation. Praxis Guide #1. Oxford, UK: INTRAC.
Kusek, J. Z., & Rist, R. C. (2004). Ten steps to a results-based monitoring and evaluation system. Washington, DC: The World Bank.
Class participation. Do all the readings in advance of each class and come to class prepared for the discussion. Bring at least one question or comment that emerges from the readings with you to each class. Be prepared to share this question or comment with the class, along with the reading passages that generated it.
Review and critique of Kellogg documents. 8-10 pp. paper summarizing and critiquing two Kellogg Foundation documents. Due October 16.
Group presentation on Kellogg, CARE, NSF, or UNDP M&E example. Sm all groups (2-3 people) will be responsible for locating a useful and well-done example of an M&E design or report based on an education project and presenting this example to the class. The presentation must be done by all members of the group and should provide a description and critique of the example. I will work with each group to help with the presentation. In class: October 30 and November 6.
Final course paper. A thorough, conceptually-justified design for monitoring and evaluation that will be useful for a current project. Planning for the final product will proceed in stages throughout the semester. Due: December 4 (one week before the final class)
Additional information on the presentations and the written assignments will be forthcoming during the semester.
This course is graded and does not offer the pass-fail option. Grading is based on the following:
Class participation 20 points
Students with 90 points or more will receive an “A”; students with 80-89 points a “B”; 70-79 points a “C”.
NOTE: I do not approve requests for incompletes in this class. However, should you have unusually compelling personal circumstances that preclude completion of the final written assignments by December 4 (our next-to-last class meeting), you must make a request to me, in writing, by November 27 for my consideration.
The University of Massachusetts Amherst is committed to providing an equal educational opportunity for all students. If you have a documented physical, psychological, or learning disability on file with Disability Services (DS), Learning Disabilities Support Services (LDSS), or Psychological Disabilities Services (PDS), you may be eligible for reasonable academic accommodations to help you succeed in this course. If you have a documented disability that requires an accommodation, please notify me within the first two weeks of the semester so that we may make appropriate arrangements.
The integrity of the academic enterprise of any institution of higher education requires honesty in scholarship and research. Academic honesty is therefore required of all students at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Should I identify academic dishonesty, I will first discuss the matter with you and give you an opportunity to correct the problem. If the problem is not corrected in subsequent work, I will notify the Academic Dean of the School of Education.
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