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Over two years in the making, I wrote this book with Brad Cousins to fill a gap in the literature, providing a systematic approach to monitoring and evaluation (M&E) training for programs and projects. It bridges theoretical concepts with practical, hands-on guidance for successful M&E training. We draw upon our combined 50+ years of applied experience in and scholarly research on M&E training, adult education, participatory evaluation and evaluation capacity building and development.
The book is chockful of illustrative examples, feature boxes on key topics and tips, figures and diagrams, tables and checklists, and other visual aids like cartoons, providing clear and accessible guidance that can be tailored to different M&E training needs and contexts, whether training is for:
- Beginners or experienced learners
- Organizations, communities, or the general public
- One day or a long-term training program
The focus is on face-to-face training, but there is considerable attention to related topics to plan M&E training as part of a coherent, holistic approach to learning and training transfer. This includes e-learning, blended learning, and organizational capacity assessment and strategic planning for M&E. You can learn more about why we wrote the book and its underlying messages in my first blog for this website, Why a Book on M&E Training?
We organize the book into three parts which progressively build upon each other. Readers can easily navigate contents according to their level of understanding, interests and needs. To assist with this, we begin each chapter with a brief a summary of learning objectives, end with a summary of key learning points, and we also include a list of hand-picked resources for further learning on chapter topics, (most freely available online).
Chapter 1 – M&E Training that Makes a Difference
Our first chapter provides an overview of the book and the choices we have made for the topics included and how we discuss them. This includes key features of M&E training that makes a difference, such as the importance of training transfer, and approaching training both systematically as well as systemically. We also look at M&E as part of a larger result-based management system, the increasing demand for M&E training, and the range of M&E training types, providers and trainees. You can access a copy of this chapter here.
Chapter 2 – The Training Landscape
Chapter 2 begins by examining what distinguishes training relative to other forms of education, situating it within an education continuum spanning formal, non-formal, informal and incidental learning. The discussion reinforces a systems approach to M&E training, stressing that it typically occurs in contexts where multiple other sources of learning are available. Thus, particular attention is given to the assortment of delivery media (possibilities) for learning in addition to face-to-face training, such as e-learning, on-the-job training, mentoring, and the use of social media. Such considerations are critical to make informed decisions that best cater to training needs.
Chapter 3 – The M&E Capacity Building Context
M&E training does not happen in isolation, but is embedded in complex social systems that affect training and its outcomes. In Chapter 3 we provide readers with an understanding of M&E as part of a larger system, with key considerations at the levels of the individual, organization, and external environment that shape the supply and demand for M&E capacity building, and the potential success of M&E training. We end the chapter by taking a brief look at M&E capacity assessment and strategic planning to inform and support M&E training and related capacity building investments.
Chapter 4 – Adult Learning
An understanding of adult learning is central to designing and delivering effective curriculum and activities for M&E training. However, adults are indeed complex systems, and no one explanatory model or theory is fully satisfactory. Therefore, any attempt to summarize such a topic as adult learning is far from exhaustive; as such, this chapter only provides an overview of some major adult learning concepts and considerations for M&E training. Much of the initial discussion is theoretical, and in the last section we identify 14 key adult learning principles to practically inform M&E training design and delivery, (topics revisited in Parts 2 and 3 of the book).
Adult Learning Principles for Effective M&E Training
(Chaplowe & Cousins 2016)
1. Establish a safe and respectful climate
2. Respond to the “need to know” (NTK)
3. Provide a structured yet flexible progression
4. Empower with genuine participation
5. Incorporate past experience
6. Keep it relevant & meaningful
7. Provide direct experience (learning by doing)
8. Make it active, fun, and challenging
9. Use mixed/multisensory methods
10. Differentiate instruction
11. Utilize collaborative, peer learning
12. Include practice and repetition
13. Design for primacy and recency
14. Provide feedback & and positive reinforcement
Chapter 5 – What makes a good M&E Trainer?
Having looked at the adult learner, in this chapter we examine the people providing M&E training. M&E trainers wear several hats and play a variety of roles in addition to training facilitation. Here we discuss the key competencies for M&E trainers, grouped into 6 core areas: 1) standards & ethics; 2) technical M&E skills; 3) context familiarity; 4) interpersonal skills; 5) management skills and 6) personal attributes. An understanding of these competencies can help inform trainer recruitment, professional development, performance appraisal and management, and curriculum development for training of trainers (ToT). We end the chapter with guidance for recruiting an M&E trainer. You can access a copy of this chapter here.
Chapter 6 – An Overview of the ADDIE Framework for Training
This chapter introduces the five interrelated phases of the generic ADDIE framework for training: Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation. We first discuss ADDIE as a systematic and systems approach to training, and then explain why we have selected it for M&E training. We conclude outlining some overall considerations for managing the ADDIE process, including a comprehensive checklist providing a snapshot of key considerations for each phase.
Chapter 7 – Training Analysis
The purpose of the training analysis is to gather information to determine whether M&E training is needed, and if so, the overall purpose and recommended type of training based on various factors (from the target audience to intended use of M&E learning). Therefore, this chapter examines more than training needs analysis, but also solution analysis, which includes careful consideration of opportunities and available resources, as well as limitations and constraints. Effective training analysis helps make informed and justified recommendations regarding what should be done – whether it includes M&E training or some alternative intervention. Practical guidance, checklists, illustrations and additional resources are provided to support:
- Training needs and outcome analysis
- Trainee analysis
- Training context analysis
- Task analysis for training
- Gap and casual analysis for training
- Training analysis reporting
Chapter 8 – Training Design
Training design builds upon the information gathered during the training analysis to define specific training objectives, content and instructional design (curriculum) to deliver training to achieve intended results. This includes the selection of methods, activities and training materials most suitable for the specific M&E training needs, audience, resources, and instructional setting identified during the analysis stage. Once these have been determined, you are ready to start developing the M&E training. This chapter provides practical guidance, checklists, examples and additional resources to support:
- Identifying training objectives
- Preparing learning objectives
- Organizing instructional content
- Designing the training curriculum
- Designing training evaluation and follow-up
Chapter 9 – Training Development and Preparation
The time, responsibilities, and what exactly needs to be developed for an M&E training event will vary according to its particular design. This chapter first examines considerations for materials to develop, adopt or adapt for M&E training. This includes instructional materials and guidelines for the trainer to manage, deliver and evaluate M&E training. These resources need to be carefully reviewed and piloted with the training itself. We then consider practical logistics that need to be arranged for successful training implementation. Practical guidance, checklists, examples and additional resources are provided, including:
- Comprehensive list of materials and resources to prepare for M&E training
- Example outlines for training plans, syllabus and lesson plans, and facilitator’s notes
- Comprehensive preparation checklist for the practicalities of M&E training, ranging from scheduling and communication to facility preparation and related logistics.
Chapter 10 – Training Implementation
Training implementation “operationalizes” what has been designed and developed to achieve training objectives. It is when learning occurs, which involves various activities where people interact with training content and each other, experiencing, practicing and reviewing M&E concepts and practices. For the trainer, this involves the management of training activities, participants, the training environment and the overall learning process. Therefore, in this chapter we provide an overview of key practices for effective training facilitation, (which are later complemented with specific examples of M&E training activities and methods in Part 3 of the book). Key topics covered in this chapter include:
- Effective communication and use of questions
- Using training aids
- Facilitating discussion and group dynamics
- Training monitoring and feedback
- Cultural competence
- Handling disruptive behavior
- Time management
- Specific tips for training introductions, activity facilitation, and training closing
Chapter 11 – Training Evaluation
Although training evaluation is the last phase in the ADDIE framework, it should be carefully considered early during the training design and development (thus introduced in Chapters 8 and 9). This will help ensure that training objectives are aligned with measurable results, and assessment tools can be prepared beforehand.
This chapter begins examining the evaluation of overall training effectiveness and worth, the relationship of this with learning assessment and training monitoring. It then presents two major approaches to training evaluation: 1) a levels approach, drawing upon the models offered by Kirkpatrick and Guskey; and 2) a logical framework approach identifying how resources and planned activities are to brings about intended results. It then summarizes five generic stages for planning and conducting training evaluation:
- Define the purpose and scope of the evaluation.
- Specify what will be evaluated
- Design and develop the training evaluation
- Collect and analyze data
- Report and follow up on training evaluation
The chapter concludes identifying four types of evaluators to consider for training, either separately or for a “blended” evaluation team: 1) Trainers; 2) External evaluators; 3) Organizational staff or department; and 4) Trainees themselves.
Each activity category includes a definition of the activity type, a link to specific adult learning principles, key advantages and disadvantages for the activity, and tips or additional considerations. This is followed by one or more specific examples to concretely illustrate activity methods and techniques. Activity descriptions are practical and concise, and intended to be tailored to different training contexts.
Keep an eye on my blog for this website as I will periodically highlight specific M&E training activities featured in the book, such as this blog on a “Logical Bridge” activity to introduce the basic concepts of the hierarchy of results used in logic modelling.
Praise For The Book
“This book is a welcome addition to the field of monitoring and evaluation, notable in its scope and breadth of a topic of increasingly importance in the evaluation community.”
– Marco Segone, Director, Independent Evaluation Office, UNWomen; Chair, United Nations Evaluation Group (UNEG); and Co-chair, EvalPartners
“This text is excellent for building the capacity of trainers and helping professional and nonprofessional to learn about program evaluation.”
– Lori Bakken, Associate Professor and Evaluation Specialist, University of Wisconsin-Madison
“After more than 25 years of observing and delivering M & E training, I’m delighted to see this book which provides such good advice about building in adult learning principles and proper planning. The book combines accessible guidance about principles of good instructional design and delivery with very practical exercises and examples. Novice and experienced M & E trainers could all learn from it.”
– Patricia Rogers, Professor of Public Sector Evaluation, RMIT University, Australia (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology), and Director, BetterEvaluation
“Whether managing or delivering M&E training in the fields of development or philanthropy, this book prides both the “nuts and bolts” as well as the conceptual backdrop for effective M&E training.”
– Nancy MacPherson, Managing Director, Evaluation, The Rockefeller Foundation
“This is a very comprehensive and well-illustrated training manual which is grounded on modern theories and presents practical application of all known M&E training and facilitation tools and methods. As a former trainer in Project Cycle Management related M&E and facilitator of planning and self-evaluation workshops, I would have loved to have such a book.”
– Claude Hilfiker, Head Evaluation Section, World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)
“The authors support effective capacity building in M&E by providing an enriching compendium of well-tried tools and practical hints for systematic training, complemented with a sound grasp of underpinning theoretical concepts.”
– Professor Thomas Widmer, Policy-Analysis & Evaluation Unit, Department of Political Science, University of Zurich
“This book is valuable resource for people, like me, who are involved in building and strengthening evaluation capacity in the humanitarian sector. It balances the personal experience of the authors with up-to-date academic knowledge, communicated in an easy and humorous way that makes reading this book serious fun.”
– Dr. Mzia Turashvili, Director of the Evaluation Unit, Médecins Sans Frontières, Vienna
“I often note that it seems like we’re endlessly training NGO staff in M&E, and frustrated with the mediocre work that results. What is so essential about this book is that it fills a key gap on how to effectively train for M&E, and it does so in a thorough yet digestible format. In an era of increasing demand and need for evaluation capacity building, this book is a key tool for higher quality and more sustainable results.”
– Christie Getman, Senior Director, Technical Support and Program Quality Unit, Lutheran World Relief
“This books reflects a meticulous review of the literature and discourse on evaluation capacity building and development to inform successful M&E training. It acknowledges the complexity of interdependent considerations, including larger organizational and societal contexts, to not only deliver effective M&E training, but also training transfer – the ability of trainees to apply M&E learning after training has been completed.”
– Joseph Dickman, Deputy Director, Research, Evaluation & Learning, The MasterCard Foundation
“Written for a diversity of training contexts, this excellent and timely book draws extensively from current literature yet is highly practical, reflecting the vast real-world experience of the authors. It will be very useful for anyone who has to cultivate an appreciation for M&E and evaluative thinking in their organizations, teams or communities – whether evaluators, program managers, team leaders or researchers.”
– Zenda Ofir, Honorary Professor, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa, and former President of the African Evaluation Association
“The book contains useful guidelines for designing effective M&E training, and for designing training in general.”
– John Mathiason, Managing Director, Associates for International Management Services, Cornell Institute of Public Affairs