Thistleton, Lisa Francesca (2008)
Ed.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.
Speech and language therapists (SLTs) have expertise in supporting schools in meeting language needs but SLTs are part of the health service. The First Schools Project was developed as a way of collaborative working between a speech and language therapy service and primary schools and for its evaluation Pawson and Tilley’s (1997) model of realistic evaluation (with its principle of explanatory causation) was chosen. This was innovatory use of the model in educational research. Realistic theories were developed in the form of Contexts (possible explanations for Outcomes), Mechanisms (the structures of the First Schools Project e.g. regular school visits) and Outcomes. There were two parts to the inquiry. Part 1 was concerned with identifying regularities (i.e., which Mechanisms of the First Schools Project were occurring with which Outcomes) and a questionnaire with school staff was used. The purpose of Part 2 was to explain those regularities by collecting data that would support, modify or challenge the realistic theories. A version of the realistic interview (Pawson, 2006) was used with stakeholders (parents, teachers and SLTs). Contexts that facilitated the working of the First Schools Project were identified and suggestions are made for future education researchers who choose the model of realistic evaluation.
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