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Teaching data for decision-making at the University of Zambia

To bridge the gap between theory and practice, three IDinsight associates led a five-day short course on how monitoring and evaluation principles can be used to address real-world challenges.

IDinsight’s Rebecca Bier and Sipho Muyangana, two of the associate leaders of the Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) short course. ©IDinsight/Will Slotznick

At IDinsight we seek opportunities to share our learning with both our local and global communities. This year, one of our organizational priorities is to engage with University students and other future leaders in regions where we work. The goal? To share how evidence and data can be used to improve lives. This serves a dual purpose — helping us share our experience with students who may be interested in pursuing social-impact research careers in the future and equipping the next generation of leaders with new skills based on real-world experience.

In July, our team organized an intensive five-day Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) course in partnership with the University of Zambia Business and Economics Association — a student group that aims to bridge the gap between theory and practice. The IDinsight team designed this short course with the goal of enabling students to walk out of the class with the basic information required to conduct M&E in real-world settings.

The students in attendance represented a cross-section of professions — including entrepreneurs, civil servants, and working professionals from non-governmental organizations. Despite coming from different backgrounds, they recognized the need for higher accountability, transparency, and results-orientation across sectors.

Our team shared hands-on sessions illustrating how IDinsight implements efficient and cost-effective M&E processes using new technological innovations and methods. The course also provided an introduction to M&E; M&E frameworks; types of program evaluations; data collection and fieldwork management; data analysis; and ethics in research. Each module was accompanied by group assignments and exercises illustrating their application amidst real-world constraints.

Sipho Muyangana introduces IDinsight at our Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) short course at the University of Zambia. ©IDinsight

The IDinsight team taught modules based on their real-world project experience, in which they needed to adapt approaches to clients’ needs amidst various constraints. Sipho Muyangana taught a module on M&E frameworks, based on her experience designing a monitoring and evaluation framework for the Zambia Social Cash Transfer Grievance Mechanism; Will Slotznick taught a module on rigorous evaluation theory and design based on his work with Acumen in Nigeria; and Rebecca Bier taught a module on data collection and analysis based on her work with the Opportunity International project in Ghana and Uganda.

Delegates from different disciplines appreciated the approach that IDinsight took during the five-day course.

“The group discussions were very helpful,” Mr. Joseph Chimidalo, the laboratory manager, said. “The classes were insightful and productive in the sense that I am empowered to make use of data I come across every day,”

“Most students enjoyed group assignments and exercises after each class because it allowed them to interact with fellow students and most importantly, practice what they learned,” Mr. Chimidalo added.

Students also highlighted that they appreciated learning about the various tools available to conduct M&E: Tableau, SurveyCTO, and Kobo for data collection; and Stata, R, Python for data analysis.

The IDinsight team was grateful for the opportunity to share with students and other professionals the value and impact of conducting quality M&E.

If you are interested in hosting a similar workshop taught by our team, please get in touch with our team at