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Project Monitoring and Evaluation in International Development
FRE 541
Instructor: Sean Holowaychuk
Office: MCML 321
Office Hours: TBA
Class Schedule: Mondays, Wednesday 12:30 - 2:00 PM
Classroom: MCML 258
Important Course Pages
Lecture Notes
Course Discussion

Course Description

This course is designed to introduce students to the principles and applications of project monitoring & evaluation (M&E). The world of international development faces many challenges, one of which is the failure of assistance interventions (aid projects and programs). Students will develop a practical understanding of the logical processes by which projects are designed and implemented, including the need for external evaluation ex post project delivery in order to assess the efficacy, outcomes, and sustainability of these interventions. Lack of project success, more often than not, is a result of inadequate impact evaluation strategies. Students will learn skills to develop strong monitoring & evaluation plans in order to overcome these deficiencies.

Students will be provided with analytical tools that will increase their value as employment candidates for national and international donor agencies, consultancy companies as well as non-government organizations (NGOs) operating in the development field.

Although the focus of this course is on international development, the broad application of the instruments learned here are a critical element of successful project management - whether it is in the agriculture or resource sector, food services industry, environmental sciences, or banking and business related fields.

This course follows the Problem-Based Learning (PBL) approach. Students will work in small groups on relevant case studies and benefit from ‘hands on’ learning. Oral presentations of their group work will allow for knowledge exchange among the students.

Participation is important in this class, especially since all students bring important and interesting real-world experience to discussions. All students are expected to come to class having read the assigned text, cases and articles and be ready to discuss these in class.

Course Goals

Upon completion of this course students will have the skills to:

  • Independently and credibly evaluate development a project’s or program’s relevance, efficiency, effectiveness, gender equality & equity, and impacts within and beyond the project’s location by review of internal or external M&E appraisals,
  • Critically assess completed monitoring & evaluation reports,
  • Identifying indications of development continuity beyond the lifetime of assistance interventions,
  • Design shared learning processes to encourage beneficial changes in behaviour of the project implementers, improve the design of future projects, and promote policy reform that creates more enabling conditions for growth and development,
  • Develop relevant and concise logical frameworks,
  • Develop research tools for data collection,
  • Communicate ideas professionally in both oral and written presentation formats,
  • Understand the challenges of group dynamics and learn to be strong team members,
  • Apply the specifics learnt from various case studies to other projects, and
  • Students will gain an understanding of the factors by which economic development advances by applying principles of the Theory of Change (ToC).


  • International development in the context of the context of low-income developing economies.
  • Understanding the nature of successes and failures of conventional project monitoring and evaluation (M&E).
  • The importance of obtaining relevant data in a timely manner.
  • Evaluation of the role of a broad portfolio of development capital/assets affected by the project and the institutions that influence them.
  • Measuring the application of key good governance principles by project implementers, notably: transparency, participation / inclusivity, accountability and timely responsiveness.
  • Assessment of mutual stakeholder understanding among project donors and implementers as well as partners/beneficiaries to harness social capital through the trajectory-of-trust before starting to deliver project benefits.
  • Appraisal of project logical frameworks (logframes) for project design.
  • Appraisal of a project’s longer-term goals and Theory of Change.
  • Assuring dynamic internal lessons-learned processes about fundamental assumptions.
  • Promoting shared learning of project outcomes (successes & failures) among relevant institutions.

Class Format

8 lectures of 1.5 hours and 4 labs of 1.5 hours, for 6 weeks. The course will follow the Problem-Based Learning approach:

1. Students work in small groups with the aid of a course tutor (or facilitator). The groups will be formed based on common interests of the student.
2. Students are confronted with an ill-structured problem that mirrors a real-world problem.
3. Well-chosen problems encourage students to define problems, identify what information is needed, and engage in solution generation and decision making.
4. The tutor guides the students through the problems, and provides them with ongoing formative evaluation.
5. The tutorial is where learning issues are developed and information is shared, discussed and integrated back into the problem. In addition, it is a place where clarification of concepts can occur as well as a place to share useful resources.
6. Each individual is responsible for his/her own learning, and for making sure the tutorial meets his/her own needs.
Source: Problem-Based Learning


Activity Percent of Grade
Team Evaluation Assessment Project 35%
Oral presentation 10%
Individual Student Paper 10%
Final Exam 35%
Class Participation 10%
Total: 100%

Team Evaluation Assessment Project & Oral Presentation

In small groups, students will be asked to evaluate a development project’s or program’s relevance, efficiency, effectiveness, gender equality & equity, and impacts within and beyond the scope of the project’s location by critically assessing an official monitoring & evaluation report. Students will be required to develop an appropriate logical framework, theory of change and problem tree for their selected development intervention. Through the study of official aid agency M&E guidelines (USAID, World Bank, EuropeAid,, as well as specific set of tools learned in FRE541, students will assess the strong-points and shortcomings of project design and implementation. Their findings will be shared with the class in presentation format for peer review and shared learning; and then submitted as a detailed final report of their findings. The oral presentation will be a good opportunity to get feedback from classmates and instructors that could be included in the final work. (Details to follow.)

Individual Student Paper

The individual student paper is a commentary on the role and challenges of M&E in the context of international development. This is an opportunity for the students to reflect on various aspects of the tools learnt in the course besides their application. It will be a short, two page contemplation of the critical role M&E plays in facilitating sustainable impact intervention. (Details to follow.)

Final Exam

The final exam will be an analytical challenge of an M&E for a specific project. The students will be asked to apply the specific techniques learned from various case studies to the specified projects.

Class Participation

I strongly encourage you to ask questions in class and to participate in class discussions. All of you have a unique global perspective on topics and many of you have valuable experience in developing countries which would be helpful to share with us. There is more than one point of view on many topics, and there are many myths or misunderstandings that pervade the problem of economic development. The group projects will benefit from the insights and points-of-view of other students’ work. Consequently I want to include class participation in the grading structure. I also want to encourage you, if you feel we have neglected important elements, to raise these points in class.

Readings & Class Material

Selective chapters from these excellent works will be presented for study during this course. You will not be expected to read the entire text. UBC library will provide copies of the chapters of the two books that are not available online; in addition, these books will be on reserve in the library.

Additional contextual material will be posted on the Connect website. A reading package containing M&E guidelines and fundamental aspects of the course toolkit will be available at Copiesmart.

Cases from past, current or future projects will be provided online and in class. Students will be asked to read each case and be prepared to discuss each case in class.

  • Acemoglu, Daron, James A. Robinson, and Ebooks Corporation. 2013;2012;. Why nations fail: The origins of power, prosperity, and poverty. London: Profile. - Full text online through the UBC Library.
  • Collier, Paul. 2007;2008;. The bottom billion: Why the poorest countries are failing and what can be done about it. New York: Oxford University Press. - Full text online through the UBC Library.
  • Easterly, William. 2001;2002;. The elusive quest for growth: Economists' adventures and misadventures in the tropics. 1st ed. Vol. 1. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press. - Full text online through the UBC Library.
  • Panayotou, Theodore. 1993. Green markets: The economics of sustainable development. Vol. no. 7;no. 7.;. San Francisco, Calif: ICS Press. (Ch2 & Ch3 will be provided through the UBC Library)
  • Schultz, Theodore W. 1964. Transforming traditional agriculture. Vol. 3;3.;. New Haven: Yale University Press. (Ch5 & Ch9 will be provided through the UBC Library)

Academic Dishonesty

Please review the UBC Calendar “Academic regulations” for the university policy on cheating, plagiarism, and other forms of academic dishonesty. Academic dishonesty will be dealt with very seriously in this course.

Online Course Material

Available at Connect: You are required to regularly login to your course page for FRE 541. Your syllabus, course-lecture slides, additional material, announcements, assignments, and grades are available.