Practicing evaluation with systems thinking in practice

Date and time: Friday 14th October & 21st October 2022, 10.00am - 1.00pm AEDT (registration from 9.45am)

Venue: Via Zoom. Details will be emailed to registrants just prior to the workshop start time

Facilitator: Professor Raymond Ison

Register online by: 12 October 2022. Spaces limited to 25 participants.

Fees (GST inclusive): Members $260, Organisational member staff $375, Non-members $425, Student member $125*, Student non-member $210*
 * Students must send proof of their full-time student status to  

Workshop Overview

The purpose of the workshop can be understood as: a system to appreciate the purpose of purpose [what] by designing purposeful learning/evaluating/inquiring systems based on systems, cybernetic and complexity lineages of practice including particular methods and techniques such as SSM (soft systems methodology), CSH (critical systems heuristics), metaphor analysis [hows] in order to build capability to practice evaluation systemically [why].

Workshop Content

1. Exploring and valuing prior experience of participants; naming expectations as (measures of performance of a workshop system);

2. Critically reflecting on the practitioner as situated and embodied (on-line guided reflective exploration);

3. Connecting/reconnecting with systems, cybernetic and complexity intellectual and practice lineages;

4. Purpose and purposefulness in practice;

5. Purposeful systemic designing for learning, inquiring, evaluating (drawing on SSM & CSH as well as situational deframing, reframing & framing practices using metaphor analysis);

6. Exploring the political ecology of practice - constraints and possibilities for practicing evaluation systemically;

7. Evaluative reflections.

Non-essential, but desirable background reading:

Ison, R.L., Collins, K.B. & Iaquinto, B.L. (2021) Designing an inquiry-based learning system: innovating in research praxis to transform science-policy-practice relations for sustainable development, Systems Research & Behavioural Science

Workshop Outcomes

The workshop is designed to support transitions that participants may wish to make towards second-order systems practice, including second-order evaluation as discussed in: Schmidt-Abbey, B., Reynolds, M. & Ison, R.L. (2020) Towards systemic evaluation in turbulent times – making a second-order practice shift. Evaluation 26 (2): 205–226.

Copies of this paper are available as pre-reading prior to the workshop.

PL competencies

The workshop design will touch on all seven domains of the AES competence framework. i.e, it is a systemic design and the competences need to be understood systemically. It will offer additional possibilities to practitioners e.g. project management as systemic inquiry or co-inquiry; systemic as well as systematic inquiry. The competency framework will be used in the final evaluative reflections - and possibly as a basis for learning metaphor analysis.

Who should attend?

This workshop is for practitioners keen to transition towards, or build depth in, systemic evaluation as part of their ‘signature’ practice repertoire. The workshop will be particularly suited to those who have had some exposure in the past to systems thinking ideas and methods, although this is not essential.  The content of the workshop will also enhance your systems practice in any domain of endeavour. 

Workshop start times
  • VIC, NSW, ACT, TAS: 10.00am
  • SA: 9.30am
  • QLD: 9.00am
  • NT: 8.30am
  • WA: 7.00am
  • New Zealand: 12.00pm

About the facilitator

The workshop is designed and facilitated by Ray Ison who has been Professor of Systems at the UK’s Open University since 1994.  The event is based on his extensive experience of designing life-transforming learning for students/participants whether in short, one-off workshops, week-long courses or on-line modules designed as learning systems in the OU's teaching program. With his colleagues, Ray has always sought to practice what he teaches and regards himself as a scholar of his own students’ learning needs. These claims are based on his internationally recognised research and scholarship, evidenced in a wide range of refereed journal papers, conference papers, keynotes and five books.


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