Realist Evaluation Workshops 2015 - Workshop One

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Presenter:  Dr Gill Westhorp

Date: Sep 11, 2015

Time: 9:00am to 4:00pm

Contact person:  Katrina Britnell, Partnerships Coordinator, Northern Institute
T: 08 8946 6838

Location:  Northern Institute, Charles Darwin University - Casuarina Campus, Yellow Building 1, Level 2, Room 48 (Savanna Room)


Introduction to Realist Approaches

This workshop will introduce realist approaches to research and evaluation:  realist evaluation, realist review (also known as realist synthesis - the realist approach to systematic literature review) and realist research (for research that is neither evaluation nor literature review). The workshop will help participants to understand the key ideas in the realist philosophy of science which underlie these approaches, including a realist understanding of causation. The differences between positivist, constructivist and realist approaches, and their implications for methodology, will be explained.

This workshop will:

  • explain why it is that programs and interventions cause different outcomes in different contexts; 
  • introduce and explain the overarching realist question (For whom, in what circumstances, in what respects, to what extent, how and why);  
  • demonstrate how realist evaluation differs from other evaluation approaches
  • provide preliminary advice on how to develop a realist research design, including developing realist questions, selecting appropriate data collection methods, and understanding analytic techniques; and
  • explain how a realist research approach can be applied to secondary sources (published literature, other documents) as well as primary sources (focus groups, interviews and surveys).

No experience in realist evaluation is assumed, and the workshop will take into account that some participants will have English as a foreign language. Although the workshop will be broadly focused and therefore only deal with issues in limited depth, it will assist participants to move from descriptive research and evaluation to explanatory research and evaluation, and will prepare participants with the concepts and vocabulary to discuss specific projects and issues in greater depth.

About the Workshop Facilitator: Dr Gill Westhorp

Gill Westhorp is a specialist in realist research and evaluation methodologies, with an interest in the relationship between realist and complexity theories. She is Director of a small research and evaluation consultancy company specialising in realist approaches; a Professorial Fellow at Northern Institute, Charles Darwin University, Darwin, Australia; an Associate at RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia; a member of the core team for the RAMESES I (standards for realist review) and RAMESES II (standards for realist evaluation) projects based in Oxford, UK; and a member of the Advisory Committee for the Centre for the Advancement of Realist Evaluation and Synthesis (CARES) at Liverpool University, UK.

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