Systems Science Friday Noon Seminar Series



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Realist evaluation, a theory-driven approach to program evaluation grounded in realist philosophy, is designed to address the question: What works for whom, to what extent, in what circumstances, and why? It is emerging as a powerful alternative to traditional approaches to intervention evaluation, such as randomized control trials, particularly in settings of high complexity and/or high stakeholder heterogeneity. Realist evaluation takes a holistic, non-linear, systems approach, and can support any research methodologies. This seminar provides an overview of realist evaluation and discussion of potential applications with programs targeting social change.

Biographical Information

Dora Raymaker, Ph.D., is a Research Assistant Professor at Portland State University’s Regional Research Institute for Human Services in the School of Social Work, Co-director of the Academic Autism Spectrum Partnership in Research and Education (AASPIRE), and the associate editor of the journal “Autism in Adulthood.” Dr. Raymaker’s research interests broadly include community-engaged practice, systems thinking, measurement, and the dynamics at the intersection of science, society, and public policy. In application, Dr. Raymaker conducts intervention research in collaboration with disability and mental health communities, primarily to improve employment outcomes, increase self-determination, and reduce discrimination and stigma. In the remaining three minutes of free time, Dr. Raymaker enjoys writing fiction and making multimedia art, including science fiction mystery novels Hoshi and the Red City Circuit and Resonance.


Social case work -- Evaluation, Social case work -- Research, Social case work -- Methodology, System theory -- Applications to social work, Social change


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Realist Evaluation: A Systems Approach for Understanding and Assessing Complex Social Programs

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