Applying systems theory to the evaluation of a whole school approach to violence prevention

Kearney, Sarah, Leung, Loksee, Joyce, Andrew, Ollis, Debbie and Green, Celia 2016, Applying systems theory to the evaluation of a whole school approach to violence prevention, Health promotion journal of Australia, vol. 27, no. 3, pp. 230-235, doi: 10.1071/HE16046.

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Title Applying systems theory to the evaluation of a whole school approach to violence prevention
Author(s) Kearney, Sarah
Leung, Loksee
Joyce, Andrew
Ollis, DebbieORCID iD for Ollis, Debbie
Green, Celia
Journal name Health promotion journal of Australia
Volume number 27
Issue number 3
Start page 230
End page 235
Total pages 6
Publisher CSIRO Publishing
Place of publication Melbourne, Vic.
Publication date 2016-12-05
ISSN 1036-1073
Keyword(s) Respectful relationships
evaluation methods
health promoting schools
interpersonal violence
participatory action research
program evaluation
Science & Technology
Life Sciences & Biomedicine
Public, Environmental & Occupational Health
Summary Issue addressed: Our Watch led a complex 12-month evaluation of a whole school approach to Respectful Relationships Education (RRE) implemented in 19 schools. RRE is an emerging field aimed at preventing gender-based violence. This paper will illustrate how from an implementation science perspective, the evaluation was a critical element in the change process at both a school and policy level.Methods: Using several conceptual approaches from systems science, the evaluation sought to examine how the multiple systems layers – student, teacher, school, community and government – interacted and influenced each other. A distinguishing feature of the evaluation included ‘feedback loops’; that is, evaluation data was provided to participants as it became available. Evaluation tools included a combination of standardised surveys (with pre- and post-intervention data provided to schools via individualised reports), reflection tools, regular reflection interviews and summative focus groups.Results: Data was shared during implementation with project staff, department staff and schools to support continuous improvement at these multiple systems levels. In complex settings, implementation can vary according to context; and the impact of evaluation processes, tools and findings differed across the schools. Interviews and focus groups conducted at the end of the project illustrated which of these methods were instrumental in motivating change and engaging stakeholders at both a school and departmental level and why.Conclusion: The evaluation methods were a critical component of the pilot’s approach, helping to shape implementation through data feedback loops and reflective practice for ongoing, responsive and continuous improvement. Future health promotion research on complex interventions needs to examine how the evaluation itself is influencing implementation.So what? The pilot has demonstrated that the evaluation, including feedback loops to inform project activity, were an asset to implementation. This has implications for other health promotion activities, where evaluation tools could be utilised to enhance, rather than simply measure, an intervention. The findings are relevant to a range of health promotion research activities because they demonstrate the importance of meta-evaluation techniques that seek to understand how the evaluation itself was influencing implementation and outcomes.
Language eng
DOI 10.1071/HE16046
Field of Research 111712 Health Promotion
130308 Gender, Sexuality and Education
1117 Public Health And Health Services
Socio Economic Objective 930403 School/Institution Policies and Development
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Copyright notice ©2016, CSIRO Publishing
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School of Education
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