• The Open University

Global Development in Practice: Designing an Intervention

This course will provide you with the skills, tools and methodologies to plan a development intervention.

Global Development in Practice: Designing an Intervention
  • Duration12 weeks
  • Weekly study13 hours
This course is part of the Global Development in Practice: Designing an Intervention program, which will enable you to build practical skills for managing development interventions.

Designing a Global Development Intervention

Using real-life case studies, the course critically engages with tools, frameworks and methods associated with designing development interventions. Students will be taken through the process of planning, implementing and evaluating a development intervention, with the different stages covered roughly in chronological sequence according to the concept of the project (or programme) cycle, which is widely used among development agencies. The main focus is on development management practice, although we will not be losing sight of the more theoretical issues and debates.


  • Week 1

    Introducing global development

    • Welcome to Designing an Intervention

      In this activity, you will be introduced to the course and learn about the learning outcomes and the assessment, as well as finding out how to study the course and use the resources available to you.

    • Setting out

      Let’s now get started by exploring what development means and what it means to manage it.

    • Looking at Development Management

      In this activity you'll learn about what it means to be a development manager and to consider how to reflect on your practice.

    • Week 1 Review

      Well done for completing Week 1. Time to reflect on this week's learning, summarise your thoughts and take a look at whats to come.

  • Week 2

    The nature of intervention

    • What is meant by 'doing development'?

      Develop your understanding of what 'development' could look like, and consider the complexity of context.

    • The nature and range of interventions

      In this week you will learn about the different interventions development managers may use as they attempt to bring about 'good change'.

    • Thinking about change

      How does change happen? How can desired changes be planned for and brought about?

    • Thinking about boundaries

      Look at the context for a potential micro-level intervention, and start to think about how you might draw boundaries around your action and intention.

    • Thinking about planning: The project cycle

      Learn about and critique the project cycle, a widely used way of representing the activities and intentions of project managers.

    • Week 2 Review

      Summing up the week and reflecting on your learning.

  • Week 3

    Designing a development management intervention

    • Welcome to Week 3

      This week focuses on the design stage in the project cycle.

    • Why are logframes so important?

      Logframes are the dominant tool used in development projects, learn about what the tool can do to help create an intervention. Finally watch the video and check your understanding by participating in a quiz.

    • Comparing two methods

      You will learn about the different logframe methods and will compare them to other methods used.

    • Week 3 Review

      Reflect on this week's learning and recap on what you have learned so far.

  • Week 4

    Current thinking on development management

    • Welcome to Week 4

      In this week we will focus on emergent thinking on theories of change, alternative approaches to results-based management, and adaptive management.

    • Results-based Management (RBM)

      Results-based management is generally seen as managing to objectives. In development management it has those who support it as a way of achieving greater accountability and those who see it as too focused on measuring results.

    • Theories of Change

      In the next section we will be looking in more detail at theories of change. This is an increasingly popular approach used in development management which considers how change actually happens.

    • Over to you - submit a peer review assignment

      In this activity you will read a case study on 'The effect of improved rural sanitation on diarrhoea and helminth infection: design of a cluster-randomized trial in Orissa, India' and practice submitting a theory of change.

    • Outcome mapping

      Outcome mapping is an approach to project planning and evaluation that was developed as an alternative to RBM. The application of outcome mapping can support an actor-centred learning focus rather than RBMs results focus.

    • A new approach: Adaptive Management

      The rise of ‘adaptive management’ emphasises that action takes place within complex systems. In this activity you will explore emergent thinking on the adaptive management approach.

    • Week 4 Review

      You will summarise your thoughts and refresh your learning in preparation for next weeks learning.

  • Week 5

    Quantitative investigative methods for development managers

    • How to find your data

      Find out why development managers may need to use certain statistical techniques such as sampling, and explore sampling theory and the importance of sampling frames.

    • How to test your ideas

      Look at the principles of hypothesis testing, how to interpret the p-value, and an overview of different types of statistical test.

    • How to tell whether your intervention has worked

      These steps cover Type I and Type II errors, the minimum detectable effect, power, and sample size.

    • Week 5 Review

      Summarising your learning this week.

  • Week 6

    Skills for critical appraisal

    • Why do development managers need critical appraisal skills?

      Examine what critical appraisal is and why development managers might need to critically appraise evaluation and research reports.

    • Critical appraisal: let’s get started

      Examine research questions and the structure of study designs, use PICO to help you identify what has been done, and explore how to appraise the background.

    • Unpacking commonly used methods and measurements

      Discover how to assess commonly used methods and measurements in evaluation and research reports.

    • Guesstimates and estimates

      How confident can you be in the data? What are the problems of spurious accuracy? Learn about confidence intervals and how to interpret them.

    • Common problems and key questions for the critical appraiser

      Common problems to look out for, and thinking about internal and external validity.

    • Applying what you’ve learned

      An opportunity to read through and analyse published evaluation and research reports.

    • Starting to think about your assessment

      Find out about your assessment, which you will work on in Week 11.

    • Week 6 Review

      Further reading and references for the week.

  • Week 7

    Conventional evaluation

    • The need for monitoring and evaluation

      Monitoring and Evaluation are key stages in the project cycle whereby impact of development intervention is assessed and decisions made on future directions

    • What is needed to evaluate effectively?

      In this activity, you will discover that effective evaluation needs planning and design. Collection of the appropriate data at the right time and place is critical.

    • Evaluation as performance

      In this activity, you will discover that the influence of the result-based agenda in measuring performance is increasingly evident in evaluation policy and practice.

    • The changing landscape

      Market-oriented players are increasingly investing in aid and development blurring the boundaries between the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors

    • Week 7 Review

      Final comments for the week and more challenges to take forward!

  • Week 8

    Impact evaluation: a guide

    • Why should development managers use quantitative methods for evaluation?

      Examine quantitative methods for proving a concept and for evaluation and discover why development managers specifically need these skills.

    • Quantitative techniques for discovering causality in development management

      Find out what quantitative techniques there are for discovering attribution and causality in development management, and how to choose the most appropriate one for your purpose.

    • The rise and rise of RCTs in development management

      Take a deeper dive into random controlled trials.

    • Critique of the use of RCTs in Development Management

      This activity looks at the limitations of RCTs in development management, and examines some of the theoretical and practical issues RCTs encounter when applied to the development field.

    • Week 8 Review

      Summing up the week and reflecting on your learning.

  • Week 9

    Broadening the perspective on impact evaluation

    • Welcome to Week 9

      In this activity, you will look at the experiences and issues of those who have implemented RCTs in practice, and consider the types of problems that are likely to arise and how to mitigate them.

    • Why use mixed methods?

      In this activity, we will explore the benefits and challenges of mixed methods, and find out where this approach is most useful.

    • Alternative quantitative methods of evaluation

      In this activity, we'll look at some examples of research studies which used alternative quantitative methods.

    • Multi-causality & Systems Thinking

      In this activity, you'll find out about impact evaluation and how it relates to systems thinking.

    • Week 9 Review

      Summarise, review and reflect on your learning for this week.

  • Week 10

    Doing evaluation differently

    • Limitations of conventional evaluation

      In this activity, you will explore the limitations of conventional evaluation and the reasons why it has become so standardised. You will also investigate a more participatory and creative approach to evaluation.

    • Methods for evaluation

      In this activity, you will discover that evaluation is about generating evidence of practice and how effective it is. You will also find out how to make judgements about the value of the evidence, and how to develop new knowledge.

    • Mixed methods

      In this activity, you will discover the qualitative techniques that are being pioneered and implemented in the development management field, sometimes alongside quantitative methods, and sometimes independently of them.

    • Week 10 Review

      In this activity, you'll reflect on your study of this week's material and prepare for next week. The Help Area provides an opportunity to ask the course Mentor questions.

  • Week 11

    Bringing your learning together

    • Reviewing this course

      Consolidate your learning over the course by updating your Index of key concepts, then review the skills you have learned.

    • Useful links and resources

      In this activity you'll have access to a range of useful links and resources from the OU to help you to submit your assessment.

    • Week 11 Review

      In this activity, you'll reflect on your study of this week's material and prepare for next week. The Help Area provides an opportunity to ask the course Mentor questions.

  • Week 12

    Preparing your assessment

    • Reviewing this microcredential

      In this activity, we will summarise the learning from each week of the microcredential.

    • Assessment overview

      In this activity, you'll explore the parts of the assessment and the criteria against which your work will be assessed.

    • Important guidance about your assessment

      In this activity, you'll be given information about using quotes, referencing and the process for submitting your assessment.

    • Thank you and good luck!

      In this final activity, we wish you well for the future. Thank you for joining us on the course!

Who is the course for?

This microcredential is aimed at practitioners working within the development industry. It will provide the skills, tools and methodologies to plan a development intervention.

Who will you learn with?

Dinar Kale is a senior lecturer in International Development and Innovation at the Development Policy and Practice group at the Open University.

Researcher, analyst and educator specialising in anthropology, geography and international development at the Open University

I am Professor of International Development at the Open University. My research is mainly on Africa, and how Africans seek to shape their own development futures.

Who developed the course?

The Open University

The Open University (OU) is the largest academic institution in the UK and a world leader in flexible distance learning, with a mission to be open to people, places, methods and ideas.

  • Established1969
  • LocationMilton Keynes, UK
  • World rankingTop 510Source: Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2020