Methods and Tools for Learning and Adaptation

Several tools are available to help you apply learning and adaptation to your project. In this section, we provide an overview of some of the key methods and tools, particularly those relevant for P/CVE and/or peacebuilding programs.

Method or Tool Relevance for Learning and Adaptation Source and/or Resources

Peer Group Review

A method using two or more project groups to review each other’s projects with the objective of learning from the experience of others. The idea is to provide a collective learning process to improve quality and identify key strengths based on the experiences of another group.

This is a tool for learning and exchange that enables participants to identify best practices from a range of experiences. This is particularly valuable for CVE, where local context can impact the causality behind any success or failure. Learning and Adapting: the Use of Monitoring and Evaluation in Countering Violent Extremism
Program Quality Assessment (PQA)

The PQA is a tool to: (1) review and learn about the quality of a program’s design; (2) strengthen/adapt program design by applying a clear set of professional standards and criteria; (3) maximize potential for programs to contribute to peace; (4) lay the foundation for adaptive programming and action planning with program teams and program partners, and (5) support strategic and long-term learning.
This tool is useful to generate learning and to identify necessary adaptations for program design. The tool is used particularly in the peacebuilding field and incorporates CDA’s Reflecting on Peace Practice and Do No Harm Principles. Thinking Evaluatively in Peacebuilding Design, Implementation and Monitoring
Strategy and Program Reflection Exercise

The Strategy and Program Reflection Exercise is a tool to: (1) improve specific elements of program strategy, design, and implementation; (2) maximize potential for the program to contribute to peace, and (3) contribute to a common understanding within the team, and possibly program partners, about key elements of effective programming.
This tool is useful both to generate learning and identify necessary adaptations of the program’s design and implementation. The tool is used particularly in the peacebuilding field and incorporates CDA’s Reflecting on Peace Practice and Do No Harm Principles. Thinking Evaluatively in Peacebuilding Design Implementation and Monitoring
Context Monitoring

“Monitoring the context helps […] practitioners anticipate changes, make proactive programmatic shifts, and ensure the safety of participants, partners and staff.” (Source) This can be implemented through weekly context updates including recent news, highlights from various communities, tracking of identified social media sources, and debriefs on any larger changes in the country that may have an impact later on. You could also conduct conflict scans at regular intervals throughout the project cycle.
This is a tool for collecting learning specifically on the context and on factors that are external to your project.


Emerging Practices in Design, Monitoring, and Evaluation for Education for Peacebuilding Programming

Additional resources:

Tips on Learning from Context: Formal and Informal Approaches to Understanding the Local Political Economy

After-Action Review (AAR)

An assessment conducted after a project or major activity that allows team members and leaders to discover (learn) what happened and why, reassess direction, and review both successes and challenges.
This is a reflection tool that is valuable for collecting lessons related to a specific activity or process that has been implemented. After Action Review Guidance
Appreciative Inquiry

A change management approach that focuses on identifying what is working well analyzing why it is working well and then doing more of it.
This is a learning tool that specifically focuses on identifying what works well for your project and team and helping you build on it. Introduction to Appreciative Inquiry
Pivot Log

An adaptive management tool to track significant changes (or pivots) that are made in an activity or a project, documenting the date and the reasoning behind the change(s) and any additional information regarding the change.
This is a tool used for adaptation to ensure you are documenting and tracking changes to your project. Pivot Log Template
Networking and Knowledge Exchange

You can network and exchange information with other practitioners from your community or other areas and countries through in-person events or virtually on online platforms.
Networking and exchanging information and experiences with other practitioners is a valuable learning tool that enables you to draw on what others have learned and how they have adapted while implementing P/CVE projects. It can also be a good resource for methods and tools for P/CVE and for Learning and Adaptation. The P/CVE Networking and Resource Actors list is a starting point to identify potential platforms for connecting with other practitioners.

DM&E for Peace is a platform focused on knowledge sharing around Design, Monitoring, and Evaluation for Peacebuilding.

Global Learning for Adaptive Management initiative (GLAM) is a learning network that aims to actively identify, operationalize, and promote rigorous evidence-based approaches to adaptive management.

Consider signing up for the CVE Roundup.


Are you looking for more resources on methods and tools for learning and adaptation?

  • USAID’s Pause and Reflect overview includes a list of group-based and individual activities that support reflection and learning.
  • The Liberating Structures website provides tools for innovative approaches to help groups tap into their collective know-how and creativity.
  • The Problem-Driven Iterative Adaptation toolkit helps to apply a step-by-step approach to break down problems into their root causes, identify entry points, search for possible solutions, take action, reflect upon lessons learned, adapt, and then act again.