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Personal Benchmark Evaluation: Assessing the Contribution of Training to Development Capacity Open Access

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In recent years, the international community has increasingly prioritized capacity building as essential to development. Yet, lack of capacity is still commonly cited as one of the primary reasons for poor development outcomes in many countries. Given the limited success of many capacity development initiatives to date, there is increasing recognition of the lack of adequate evaluative tools for both measuring the success of capacity development initiatives and learning how to improve these initiatives. This dissertation focuses on one of the most prevalent types of capacity development interventions, that of training. It includes a survey of 20 of the top development training institutes, mapping present practice and unmet evaluation needs. It then presents a new, participatory model for evaluation of international training courses targeting developing country professionals. The model is designed to address some of the limitations to feasibility, utility and credibility of current evaluation models through the use of participatory evaluation methods. The new "personal benchmark" evaluation model includes three participant questionnaires: pre-course, end-of-course, and several months post-course, with participants at each stage defining for themselves their goals, and then in the next phase assessing the extent to which they were reached. The personal benchmark system is designed to both support evaluation of training and to facilitate better course design and continued improvement of training. The dissertation presents results from initial field testing of the model and makes recommendations for needed research in order to validate the model and test its applicability of the model in other contexts.

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