Researchers and policymakers connect for joint learning in Bangladesh
Generating meaningful discussion between policymakers and researchers is a critical ingredient in developing evidence-based policies. What’s one of the most practical ways to bring together academics and policy actors, despite busy schedules and different perspectives? Get folks into the same room, and start a conversation.
EPoD and the BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD) recently did this in Dhaka, Bangladesh, through a training workshop on using data and evidence for designing public policy. The course, “Using Data and Evidence for Policy Analysis,” delivered EPoD’s Building Capacity to Use Research Evidence (BCURE) blended learning curriculum to participants from BIGD, local nonprofits, and several Bangladeshi government ministries. Participants completed all seven of EPoD’s digital BCURE units, followed by blended-learning in-class sessions taught by Adnan Khan (LSE), Arielle Bernhardt (Harvard), and Atonu Rabbani (BIGD). Instructors also presented their ongoing research in Bangladesh, including topics such as emerging local governance structures and how these affect service delivery in the Rohingya refugee camps.
Learn more about EPoD's blended learning approach:
Step 1: Learners complete online units
First, learners complete short (~90 minute) digital units in their homes or at a computer lab.
Step 2: Instructor reviews learner data
Next, the in-class instructor uses a dashboard to review learner data (data generated by learners’ answers to the questions throughout the digital unit).
Step 3: Instructor uses learner data to inform classroom teaching
Then, the instructor uses learner data to customize the objective of the in-class session. For example, if an instructor observes that few learners understood a critical concept based on their answers in the digital unit, the instructor can adjust their lesson plan to spend more time on this topic.
BIGD’s former Executive Director Sultan Hafeez offered opening remarks highlighting the longstanding need for researcher-policymaker conversations: “When the new Bangladesh was forming, there was a group of policy makers who were passionate about using research to form policy. We (still) need to bring research and policy closer together.“ Imran Matin, BIGD’s current Executive Director, echoed Hafeez. “Training workshops like these are important to begin building coalitions for a better bridge between research and policy.” Participants certainly recognized this as well; about half of all attendees had stated in a pre-workshop survey that communication between policymakers and researchers was a priority for them in attending the workshop, and post-workshop feedback indicated that the vast majority found the workshop helpful in achieving this goal.
“Training workshops like these are important to begin building coalitions for a better bridge between research and policy.”
For EPoD’s training team, the event marked new territory for the BCURE curriculum. Historically, BCURE content has been delivered to its original target audience of civil servants; with a higher-than-normal proportion of researchers in the room, the team had to think carefully about content’s relevance. Happily, participants reported well-suited content across the board, with different groups appreciating different technical and substantive topics.
Enthused by the success of this training, EPoD and BIGD are preparing to jointly propose future collaboration on capacity building in Bangladesh. The next round of work would offer additional workshops using the BCURE methods -- but, importantly, would focus first on building BIGD’s capacity to directly deliver blended trainings across their curriculum. This model will allow BIGD to apply EPoD’s evidence-based teaching methods to the content of their choosing. With this expansion, EPoD aspires to facilitate researcher-policymaker conversations in a learning environment, with the ultimate goal of strengthening ties between two of the most critical groups to high-impact policy-making.