Our teams in the field have a wealth of knowledge and experience but often lack certification or formal education related to Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E). By receiving monitoring and evaluation training and learning best practices at American University’s School of International Service, I have been privileged to provide monitoring and evaluation training for organizations in which I’ve worked in Liberia, Uganda, and Kenya. These internal capacity building workshops emphasize participatory approaches and qualitative data analysis.
I focus on participatory approaches and qualitative analysis for several reasons. First, descriptive quantitative indicators seem to be the most accessible and perhaps the best place to start in M&E. As such, most of my colleagues, whether trained in M&E or not, know how to conduct descriptive statistical analysis and, depending on the size of the projects on which they work, may also have had experience doing inferential analyses. I prefer participatory approaches because as an outsider and non-local in the organizations in which I’ve worked in M&E, I know that the experiences of colleagues who have lived their whole lives in the area or have worked for a longer period at the organization, have valuable contributions to share about M&E. The following are some of what I have learned in conducting trainings for co-workers in M&E.
Develop Monitoring and Evaluation training with the team
If possible, develop monitoring and evaluation training content with the team. If you are new to the team, make sure you know who knows what about M&E and what experiences they have. You can find this out through unstructured interviews, observation, or a simple survey in print or using google forms. Once you have ascertained the training needs, work with your co-workers to develop content. Ask them to contribute materials they use, from examples like proposals and logframes to handbooks and other how-to materials. If you come in with a TOR for a monitoring and evaluation training, you will still want to get as much feedback and buy-in from the team. Your co-workers are professionals, some of whom may have more experience than you in M&E and although you will be conducting the training, they are resources to collaborate with as you build the training.
Ask what monitoring and evaluation tools are your coworkers already using. Are they gathering appropriate data to monitor and evaluate the specific project? These are questions you can answer as a group. Developing the monitoring and evaluation training with the team also can clarify where you need to address the most energy, whether at planning, implementation, or evaluation, and what sort of evaluations relate to the specific project (performance, formative, summative, impact evaluations, etc).
Do not reinvent the wheel
Colleagues and coworkers know proposals and templates that develop monitoring and evaluation frameworks. Even if they have not done this work themselves, they have almost assuredly referred at some point to lists of activities with indicators in the implementation of their work. If there are specific frameworks and tools required by the organizations or projects funders, build the training around those but also consider other evaluation tools that may not be required by external funders, such as key stakeholder analyses and participatory methods like mapping, transect walks, imaging, and listening surveys. These tools may help the team develop new ways of monitoring and evaluating throughout the project cycle.
Check with your organization, do they already have a guide or suggestions for M&E? There are also a number of training guides online that you can use as templates for your own training materials. These tools help the team understand the potential impacts of their projects and the needs for ongoing monitoring.
Review and plan for next steps
Debrief and teambuilding activities are important to cement the learning experience, particularly when working with coworkers who rarely get the chance to reflect on their work. All team members involved in the project cycle (planning, implementation and evaluation) need to have an understanding of how to monitor and evaluate their work, even if it is not their primary duty. Reflecting on the monitoring and evaluation plans and content discussed in the training is necessary as you develop the next steps in effective use of monitoring and evaluation tools and methods. Before leaving the training or meeting develop the next steps needed for monitoring and evaluation projects as a team. This may mean identifying evaluation plans or developing interview questions, depending on the specific needs of your organization.
In the Qualitative Methods in Monitoring and Evaluation course of the online Graduate Certificate in Project Monitoring and Evaluation, we focus on participatory qualitative methods, like group interviews, interviews, observation, and mapping, amongst others. These tools and courses that focus on them support further participatory monitoring and evaluation, particularly how to train others to use them.
About the Author
Ally Krupar is an Adjunct Instructor at American University’s Office of Graduate & Professional Studies where she teaches Qualitative Methods in Monitoring and Evaluation. She is also a Doctoral Candidate in Adult Education and Comparative International Education at Pennsylvania State University and a Visiting Researcher with RET, an international organization providing secondary and post-secondary education to displaced peoples worldwide. She holds a BA in Anthropology from Case Western Reserve University and an MA from the School of International Service at American University. Follow Ally on Twitter.
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