While working with Catholic Relief Services on USAID’s Feed the Future project in the Kebbi, Sokoto, and FCT states in Nigeria, Making Cents seized the opportunity to apply its user-centered process for curriculum development and training delivery. The process integrates applied learning and participatory approaches along five replicable, iterative steps: discovery, development, capacity building, implementation, and learning. In this project, we used it to improve incomes and household decision-making of vulnerable caregivers, but the process is just as applicable to other training objectives. Read about it below, and learn how we applied it in Nigeria.
Step 1: Discovery. Making Cents’ experts and program staff engage targeted beneficiaries and local implementing partners in assessments that identify attitudes, skills, knowledge, and needs of learners. After the assessments, we bring everyone together in participatory design workshops that outline the curricula, tools, and learning approaches likely to have the greatest impact within the specific context.
In Nigeria, Making Cents led collaborative assessment and participatory design workshops that highly influenced the program design. One example included changing the original idea of using savings and lending groups to implement activities, to using nutrition-based caregiver groups instead. This change allowed the project to reach women beneficiaries from all households. Discovery activities also highlighted the need to include specific trainings on nutrition and children’s education, along with trainings on income-generating activities and household decision-making.
Step 2: Development. Informed by collaborative assessments and workshops, Making Cents’ experts and program staff design curricula and tools that meet identified needs and integrate applied learning, hands-on interaction, and visual aids. Concurrently, we design a training delivery system that ensures desired quality, results, and scale. This requires detailing the process for training trainers, supporting trainers, providing oversight, and applying learning.
In Nigeria, Making Cents used Step 1 findings to create the Enterprise Your Household (EYH) curriculum. It incorporated pictorial cards that encouraged interaction and exploratory learning and a sequenced series of stories with female characters, i.e. “personas”, faced with similar challenges to those of targeted beneficiaries. Making Cents continued to use applied learning approaches to establish a training delivery system, which included coordinators from each state who were trained as master trainers. These master trainers provided ongoing support for trainers, who served as Income Generation Field Supervisors (IGFSs) for the project, and oversaw delivery of the EYH curriculum.
Step 3: Capacity Building. Making Cents’ experts and program staff continue to integrate an applied learning approach to build the capacity of local implementing partners, master trainers, and trainers in controlled learning environments. Master trainers and trainers practice training delivery with technical support and peer feedback. They experience as participants the training sessions they will soon lead.
In Nigeria, Making Cents delivered a three-week training for master trainers that enabled them to experience as participants the week-long trainings they would later lead. They practiced training trainers – IGFSs – and received feedback from peers. IGFSs also experienced training sessions as participants, and they practiced delivering their sessions with feedback from peers and the support of master trainers.
Step 4. Implementation. Making Cents’ experts and program staff facilitate continuous feedback loops by supporting close and collaborative relationships between master trainers and trainers. Master trainers observe trainers’ sessions and facilitation skills and provide feedback, tailored coaching, and supervision. As needed, we assist trainers and master trainers to update curricula, develop refresher trainings, overcome local challenges, manage expectations, and engage timid participants.
In Nigeria, Making Cents facilitated the rollout of the EYH curriculum by IGFSs and master trainers, assisting them to overcome local challenges and providing technical support to ensure effective supervision and sustained quality. Early feedback informed a curriculum update and refresher training. In Kebbi State, master trainers led monthly meetings where IGFSs practiced facilitation.
Step 5. Learning. Programs systematically analyze best practices to capture and share data and lessons learned. Making Cents’ experts and program staff also support mid-and end-term evaluations and disseminate key findings.
In Nigeria, Making Cents conducted a lessons-learned trip to find out what worked well and what didn’t. IGFSs and master trainers stated that their engagement in curriculum development and trainings had resulted in development of new skills and professional advancement. The evaluation also established that EYH training had increased the engagement of vulnerable caregivers in more diverse income-generating activities as well as their confidence, incomes, savings, and investments in household nutrition, education, and healthcare. A number of beneficiaries also reported improved spousal relationships.
Need more information? If you would like to find out more about our approach, please contact us to learn how our technical experts developed and tested this user-centered process.