Understanding the Effectiveness of Agricultural Training for Women: A desk review of indicators, methods and best practices

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This desk review provides an introduction to some of the indicators, methods, tools, challenges and best practices that will help development practitioners measure the effectiveness of agricultural training, specifically as it relates to women and women’s economic empowerment. Contracted by Oxfam, it is part of ongoing work to improve monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL) for the organization’s Women’s Economic Empowerment programming. 
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  RESEARCH REPORT FEBRUARY 2016 UNDERSTANDING THE EFFECTIVENESS OF AGRICULTURAL TRAINING FOR WOMEN  A desk review of indicators, methods and best practices  AIMEE REEVES This desk review provides an introduction to some of the indicators, methods, tools, challenges and best practices that will help development practitioners measure the effectiveness of agricultural training, specifically as it relates to women and women’s economic empowerment. Contracted by Oxfam, it is part of ongoing work to improve monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL) for the organization’s Women’s Economic Empowerment programming. This research report was written to share research results, to contribute to public debate and to invite feedback on development and humanitarian policy and practice. It does not necessarily reflect the policy positions of Oxfam. The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the organization.  www.oxfam.org    CONTENTS Executive Summary 3   1 Purpose of the study 4   2 Definitions and distinctions 5   3 Theoretical models 5   4 Indicators 9   5 Methods and tools 10   6 Challenges, cosiderations and best practices 19   7 Conclusion 22   Acknowledgements 35   Understanding the effectiveness of agricultural trainings on women: A desk review of indicators, methods and best practices 2  EXECUTIVE SUMMARY This desk review provides a summary of indicators, methods, tools, challenges and best practices for measuring the effectiveness of agricultural training. It focuses on measuring the results of training activities – and in particular, how they link to women and women’s economic empowerment. The review is written to help development practitioners, and in particular livelihoods and monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL) specialists. The review has been developed through a synthesis of literature available on the Internet, through sources at Oxfam, and through sources and interviews with individuals at other organizations. It focuses on ‘intermediary results’ (changes in knowledge, application of knowledge), only briefly addressing output-counting and not covering longer-term impacts such as changes in income or women’s empowerment. The report identifies four theoretical models that can guide the approach to monitoring and evaluation: ã   Logical Framework Approach:  the LFA is best thought of as a way to present the flow of programme goals, objectives, outputs and activities and how these relate to each other. ã   Results Framework Model:  A results framework, similar to a log frame, explains the relationship between inputs, outputs, outcomes and impacts. For each results level, indicators are chosen that serve to measure progress against targets. ã   Kirkpatrick Model:  Also referred to as the four-level approach to training, referring to the four defined evaluation tiers: reaction, learning, behaviour and results. This model was first developed in the 1950s as a way to evaluate formalised training programmes, particularly in the for-profit sector, in order to calculate return on investment against a company’s bottom line. ã   Countenance Model:  A model often used to evaluate higher education programmes, Stake’s Countenance Model distinguishes between antecedents (those conditions existing prior to teaching and learning), transactions (engagements that make up the process of training) and outcomes (the measurements of the impact of instruction.) The report’s major contribution is its discussion of various indicators used to measure training results, in the short, medium and long term. In the short term, it looks at mixed-methods approaches used in Papua New Guinea and Malaysia. In particular, it looks at the use of measurement tools to develop gendered needs assessments and to design and implement pre- and post-training questionnaires. Examples of medium-term methods come from Bangladesh and Tanzania, respectively. The first looks at Oxfam in Bangladesh’s use of continuous household panels to track data on income and empowerment, as part of the River Island’s women’s empowerment programme. The second looks at an approach used by TechnoServe’s ‘The Coffee Initiative’, which actively tracked women’s participation and women’s adoption of production ‘best practices’ through regular project monitoring, including reporting forms and surveying. The section on longer-term methods looks at questions of impact evaluation, and in particular the lessons from a mixed-method impact evaluation in Armenia and a ‘simplified quasi-experimental design’ in Guatemala. The report concludes with a short summary of challenges and considerations for measurement in this area. It briefly touches on issues relating to gender sensitivity, participatory approaches, the use of mobile technology and budgeting. It acknowledges the tension between measuring formal and informal training or technical assistance – noting the relative ease of evaluating more formalized approaches. Understanding the effectiveness of agricultural trainings on women: A desk review of indicators, methods and best practices 3  The report provides a concise introduction to some of the issues and measurement approaches in this area. Attached appendices provide examples of some of the measurement tools referenced, along with an extensive bibliography for further reading. 1 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY The purpose of this desk review is to provide a summary of indicators, methods, tools, challenges and best practices that will help development practitioners measure the effectiveness of agricultural training, specifically as it relates to women and women’s economic empowerment. The study was contracted by Oxfam and will build on ongoing work to improve monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL) for the Women’s Economic Leadership programming in Asia. Effectiveness may be measured through a range of approaches. The intent of this desk review is to explore methods for assessing the short and medium term outcomes of agricultural trainings. Identified outcomes include: 1. Quality of training 2. Understanding of training content 3. Appropriateness of training content 4. Application and adoption of training content  Although critical to evaluating training programmes as a whole, impacts that accrue over longer periods of time, such as changes in income or changes in women’s empowerment, are not explicitly addressed within this review. Further, monitoring of outputs, such as the number of women attending trainings, will only be briefly addressed. Both qualitative and quantitative methods are presented, and case studies of their utilization come from different sources and different locations. Although the purpose of this desk review is ultimately to synthesize how to measure effectiveness of training on women, most methods presented may be applied to both genders. In addition to methods, the review details several theoretical frameworks that are used to conceptualize training effectiveness. Common challenges that occur when monitoring and evaluating training outcomes are discussed, with emphasis on those specific to women participants. Finally, the review summarizes best practices and considerations to take into account when conducting M&E (monitoring and evaluation) activities on training effectiveness. The primary method of data collection for this review was a comprehensive synthesis of literature available through the Internet, through sources at Oxfam, and through sources and interviews with individuals at other organizations. Literature includes both peer-reviewed and grey. Because the intent of this review is to provide methods and resources for widespread use, special emphasis was put on documents that are publicly available at no cost. Although there are no limits on the amount of information available, challenges existed in finding source documents that provided detailed methodological information and case studies. Often, when results of studies are published, there is little to no discussion of the specifics of the methodology utilized, and other documents that articulate methodologies do not provide actual details of how these methods were implemented. Readers of this review are encouraged to reference source documents and, in some cases, contact authors of documents to obtain data collection tools or additional information on how specific methodologies were implemented. Understanding the effectiveness of agricultural trainings on women: A desk review of indicators, methods and best practices 4
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