A realist evaluation of expert practice in care and education services for young people with severe learning disability, autistic spectrum conditions or significant physical impairment
Through a realist evaluation approach, this three-year study will establish the degree to which the Birtenshaw approach improves the quality of life of those who are supported, resulting in them leading fulfilling, independent lives to the extent that this is possible. It will identify the factors that are important to this, together with the context in which achievement is made possible.
A systematic review of special education and care practices is followed by non-participant observation in two schools and a college, with the use of “think-aloud” techniques to uncover unconscious competence and implicit rationale for practice. The main element of realist evaluation will seek examples of high-quality practices and processes that improve outcomes for the children and young people, identifying the essential factors that contributed to this, while contextual features that made the achievement possible will be explored in detail. A feedback loop of confirmation and further analysis with staff members will deepen understanding. The findings will be raised to a conceptual level through modelling and case studies, all validated with staff members.
The outcome should be the ability to communicate what works and why it works, with clear description of the essential context for success.
Funder: Birtenshaw £93,772
Team: Professor Tony Long, Dr Annie Wood, Laura Clarry (Doctoral Student)