Shared Action Learning Project Development

A Guide to “SAL” as Philosophy and Project Development Strategy

Shared Action Learning is a perspective on IQP development that we think captures some of the core concepts and strategies underpinning the project centre’s approach to student and community development. Shared Action Learning — or SAL — grows out of experience gained since the project centre’s inception in 2007, and draws on ideas and aspirations associated with WPI’s Global Projects Program and traditions of action research, pragmatism, and asset-based community development, among others.

We write this website directly to you, our students, because we hope it will help you “get” and “give” the most from your projects. SAL is a reflection of collective effort by past students, advisors, project partners, and other “thinkers and doers.” We will ask you to also help improve SAL as a student and community development strategy, and this website specifically as a way of introducing SAL to to students and others interested in working closely with communities.

How will we use this website?

This website will be used like a workbook or guide to using SAL in your project. We will “assign” specific pages as you need them, but they will also be there for you to browse as you wish. There are three main sections:

  1. What is Shared Action Learning? — You will read this short section early in prep term in order to understand conceptually how we will approach our work in Cape Town and how your project fits into the mission of the CTPC;
  2. How will we build our Project Website? This is a deceptive title — yes, it is about building your project website, but more, it is about building your project. This section of the website is pretty extensive, filled with Guidance and Examples on building your website. But because the website will be the main way that you report about your project — how it evolves,  what it does and does not accomplish, and what can be learned from it — you’ll need to learn lots about project development, community engagement and much more. Therefore, in learning about how to report via the website on your work, you will also be learning how to execute your project. You will use parts of this section immediately to begin building your project. Other parts won’t be used much until the “field phase” in Cape Town.
  3. Resources for Project and Website Development: Contains links and references to resources that may be useful at various stages in your project.

Things to keep in mind

  • We do things differently in Cape Town! Every year CTPC students and faculty have created new ways of doing and reporting on projects. Our website, for example, offers an alternative to “standard” IQP reports, one we hope is creative, satisfying and relevant for students and beneficial to others.
  • The language of SAL and how it will be used to create your websites builds on past CTPC experience, but it is also still new and evolving — your patience, creativity and critical feedback will all be essential to making it a success.
  • Read carefully! Though presented as a website, consider this your course textbook or lab workbook.

Who are we?

This website is authored by WPI Professors Scott Jiusto, Bob Hersh, and Steve Taylor. All three have advised students in Cape Town, and Scott is also the CTPC center director.