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Friday, September 21 • 12:00pm - 12:30pm
Realist Evaluation: Tracing the Evolution of Realist Program Theory over the Years of the Resilient Futures Project in South Australia

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Bronny Walsh (Community Matters)

Evaluators have been working with a Research Institute to undertake a collaborative, capacity building evaluation of a pilot program called 'Resilient Futures'.  The program aimed to improve wellbeing for young people from disadvantaged communities by delivering, through schools and youth sector agencies, resiliency training and mentoring support for young people.The evaluation was intended to inform future decision-making about the Resilient Futures program, and to inform program improvement over time. A realist evaluation methodology was selected because it was a learning-oriented methodology which could contribute to program refinement, while also explaining different outcomes for different sub-groups and in different contexts. 

The program was being developed, tested and refined during the evaluation.  It started as a small-scale pilot in a few agencies, underwent a complete transformation of the delivery model and became a large-scale program delivered to hundreds of young people through multiple agencies. The program model moved from delivery of a pre-designed program in which high fidelity was expected, to supporting and resourcing the delivery agencies to adapt and use core materials in ways that were appropriate to their own setting. This required a significant change in the program theory and a change in evaluation methods. Realist evaluation is intended to be iterative, gradually developing and refining program theory through recurrent rounds of evaluation.  

This paper demonstrates how it can respond to transformation within programs. It will trace the evolution of the evaluation, demonstrating the changes in program theory, evaluation questions and methods required as the program evolved. Key findings from the final round of the evaluation will also be presented. 

avatar for Keren Winterford

Keren Winterford

Research Director, Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology Sydney
Dr Winterford has 20 years of work experience working in the international development sector, in multiple capacities with Managing Contractors, NGOs, as a private consultant, and more recently in development research. She currently provides research and consultancy services for numerous... Read More →

avatar for Bronny Walsh

Bronny Walsh

Research and Evaluation Partner, Walsh & Associates
My background is in criminology and I currently manage the SA Drug Use Monitoring in Australia (DUMA) research program which involves interviewing police detainees about drugs and crime.I also do a lot of work with Realist Evaluation trying to unpack why, and in what circumstances... Read More →

Friday September 21, 2018 12:00pm - 12:30pm AEST
Chancellor 5