Fall 2016 - 60960 - PA397C - Advanced Empirical Methods for Policy Analysis

Evaluation Methods for Global Development

This seminar overviews the various methods used in both poverty assessment, program design and program evaluation in international development and humanitarian assistance work. We will emphasize training in qualitative methods such as Participatory Assessment, Environmental and Social Assessment, Beneficiary Assessment and Stakeholder Analysis, and Experimental Design and Evaluation. We will also study data collection methods such as interviews, focus groups, surveys, and sampling techniques.  While this course will primarily focus on qualitative methods, it will strongly emphasize wide exposure to the means by which we collect, analyze and use data in international development work, and the ethical and analytical concerns that arise therein. We will also closely examine the results-based monitoring and evaluation policies and practices of key international organizations and non-profit/ non-governmental organizations that work in international development and humanitarian assistance. We will study how to evaluate both sector-wide/strategy approaches, such as food security and post-conflict aid, as well as program/project-level evaluations in areas such as education and health. We will end with an examination of the feedback mechanisms and learning culture of agencies, and how evaluation is used (or not) within aid and humanitarian organizations. Assignments will focus on the critical assessment and application of evaluation tools, meta-evaluation strategies, and the design of an approach paper for a program or project evaluation.

Grades for the course will be determined by three components, detailed below. Students can choose between Option I or II for the final assignment, in accordance with their learning objectives for the course and in consultation with Dr. Weaver.

(1)    In-class participation (5%)

(2)   Evaluation methods portfolio (45%). Students choose three out of six options, including: assessment report brief; meta-evaluation methodological summary & critique; project design matrix; concept note for an experiment or quasi-experimental evaluation design; participatory research design memo; and a baseline needs assessment sampling strategy

(3)   Final Assignment, Option I (50%): Small Group Meta-Evaluation Report (25-30 pages, single spaced, broken down into five stages: executive summary & outline (5%), rough draft (10%), peer review (5%), presentation and panel defense 10%, and final draft (20%)

(4)   Final Assignment, Option II (50%): Meta-Evaluation Rough Draft Peer Reviews (2 reports @ 5% each), Expert Panel Review & Written Feedback (10%), & Take-Home Final Exam Consisting of Two Essay Questions (8-10 pages total, @ 30%)