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Theory based evaluation for complex systems and Realist qualitative analysis

Many policies and programs are implemented in large systems, or expect to make changes at multiple levels of a system. Many approaches to program theory either assume that the program itself is simple, or ignore the implications of context for whether and how programs work.

The first day of this program will compare various approaches to 'systems', 'complexity' and 'context', including introducing realist perspectives. Participants will explore the implications for program design and for commissioning and conducting evaluations, and in particular, the many uses of theory for dealing with complexity.

Australia
21st July, 2015 to 23rd July, 2015
Event City: 
Perth
Event State/Province: 
Event cost: 
Paid
Event type: 
Workshop

Many policies and programs are implemented in large systems, or expect to make changes at multiple levels of a system. Many approaches to program theory either assume that the program itself is simple, or ignore the implications of context for whether and how programs work.

The first day of this program will compare various approaches to 'systems', 'complexity' and 'context', including introducing realist perspectives. Participants will explore the implications for program design and for commissioning and conducting evaluations, and in particular, the many uses of theory for dealing with complexity.

Realist evaluation is one of the approaches designed to be used for evaluations in complex systems. While many people have undertaken introductory training in realist methods, relatively few have explored the implications for qualitative data collection (e.g. interviewing) and analysis.

This workshop will commence with a brief reminder of the key concepts in realist approaches, how the realist meanings of the key terms 'context' and 'mechanism' vary from everyday use, and the implications for qualitative methods. The workshop will then introduce qualitative methods for identifying, developing and representing tentative program theory. The third component will focus on collecting realist data through interviews and focus groups, exploring techniques and question structures for eliciting and testing program theory. Methods for realist qualitative analysis will conclude the workshop.

The workshop will involve presentations and examples, with a significant focus on practicing specific skills, and plenty of opportunity for discussion and questions.