Carnegie Mellon University

Eberly Center

Teaching Excellence & Educational Innovation

Instructor: Jay Aronson
Technology for Global Development, Department of History


My colleagues and I wanted to know if students were able to analyze a development situation at a more complex and nuanced level at the end of the course than they were able to at the beginning of the class. To find out, we designed a simple pre- and post-test in which we asked students to evaluate a hypothetical development scenario that encapsulated most of the issues that we would cover in the course throughout the semester.


We gave students 30 minutes to formulate their answers, administering the test in the first and last weeks of class.


In the first week of class, students focused primarily on technical issues associated with installing a communications system in a remote corner of the world.  While they did tend to ask questions about what the system would be used for, the didn’t focus much on social, cultural, and political issues, long-term costs, and human resource challenges associated with the implementation of technology in developing communities.  By the end of class, these issues were fore-grounded in their analyses.  The students also discussed the importance of needs assessment, encouraging the local community to take ownership over the project, and the need for integrated monitoring and evaluation plans.  They also were able to suggest specific techniques for these important tasks.


We have used this assignment over several iterations of the class and plan to continue doing so in the future.

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