The creative M&E approach allows for monitoring gaps to be filled, and to appraise projects/programmes from different perspectives. Creative monitoring can provide a more complete image and understanding of what the project achieved.
It is widely recognised that the effects of sport and development programmes may not be easily measured and evaluated due to their focus on social and psychosocial change triggered by sports. Methods used in creative monitoring can help to monitor and consequently evaluate the achieve change in knowledge or behaviour.
Challenges in measuring social and psychosocial impact
Outcomes and impact in the social and psychosocial field are notoriously hard to measure and assess. The so-called “soft outcomes” such as changes in attitudes, self-perception or certain skills areas are typically defined as crucial, but are often intangible to measure.
It is becoming increasingly acknowledged that a combination of qualitative and quantitative approaches to M&E has the potential to capture a wider set of outcomes (especially unexpected outcomes) and is more likely to provide a more complete picture of the effects of the intervention.
Accordingly, the range of “commonly acceptable” M&E tools needs to be broadened and adapted to innovative methods. Therefore, besides traditional, commonly standardised M&E tools (such as questionnaires, focus group discussions, interviews, etc.), alternative M&E tools (e.g. story telling, performing arts, fine arts, photo monitoring, video documenting, etc.) should be considered.
Traditional approaches to M&E, involving often highly technical and specialised methods, may:
- not be fully conducive to being implemented on the ground, due to lack of knowledge or understanding of M&E among non-specialist implementers
- not be seen as integral to the intervention
- not be entirely capable of reflecting both intended and unintended outcomes of the intervention
- not participatory or inclusive enough
Having fun with M&E
In light of the peculiarities of sport and play focusing on the recreational approaches towards learning, building relationships, developing understanding and generating greater autonomy, creative techniques to M&E can offer a useful additional means of engaging with quality control and programme improvement that is especially in line with the playful nature of sport and play activities. Furthermore, innovative M&E tools could be motivating for the staff as well as cost-effective.
Examples of a creative M&E approach currently being used in Sport & Development programmes or projects include:
- photo monitoring
- participatory video
- problem tree
- poetry club