Fall 2017 - 61100 - PA 397C - Advanced Empirical Methods for Policy Analysis

Evaluation Methods for Global Development and Humanitarian Assistance
This seminar overviews the various methods and tools used in the design and management of programs and policies in international development and humanitarian assistance work. This course strongly emphasizes a practical and mixed methods approach to the means by which we design projects and collect, analyze and use data to understand what works and what doesn’t in international development and humanitarian assistance work. We will also examine some of the key challenges in managing evaluations at the project and organizational levels, and the ethical and analytical concerns that arise therein. We will emphasize training in qualitative approaches to Participatory Assessment, Environmental and Social Assessment, Beneficiary Assessment, and Stakeholder Analysis, as well as basic approach to quantitative techniques used in impact evaluations (including experimental and non-experimental design). We will also study data collection methods, including interviews, focus groups, surveys and sampling techniques. We will closely examine the results-based monitoring and evaluation (M&E) policies and practices of key international organizations and nonprofit/non-governmental organizations that work in international development and humanitarian assistance. In addition to looking at program/project-level evaluations in issue areas pertaining to social and health policy, we will also discuss examples of sector-wide and organizational strategy approaches on cross-cutting issues such as food security, governance and corruption. At the end of the course, we will also critically examine the feedback mechanisms and learning culture of agencies and how evaluation is used (or not) within aid and humanitarian organizations.  Requirements and Expectations 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. While this class involves the discussion of some statistical and quantitative techniques, it will not include any formal “problem sets” or quantitative analysis. Students seeking these specific skills are highly encouraged to take other sections of AEM and other course offerings that focus on quantitative methods. Grades for the course will be determined by three components, detailed below. In-class participation (10%) Evaluation methods portfolio (70%) Students choose seven out of 10 options, including (for example): assessment report brief and critique; meta-evaluation methodological summary & critique; problem tree analysis; project design matrix/logframes; concept note (design frame) for an experimental or quasi-experimental evaluation design; participatory research design memo; and a sampling strategy for a baseline needs assessment. The purpose of the portfolio is to build a set of rigorous writing examples that demonstrate students’ skillsets and may be useful to students when applying for jobs in the development and humanitarian sectors. Final Exam (take-home essay and practice job application) (20%) Readings We will have one assigned textbook (currently “Road to Results” by the World Bank, but this is subject to change). In addition, we will read several articles or valuation reports each week.  Students should expect, on average, 150 pages of reading per week. All readings are available online for free, including the textbook.