Shared Action Learning

Shared Action Learning (SAL) offers a unique approach to projects that provides a procedure for problem solving, as well as the opportunity to share ideas and knowledge with others, allowing for growth and creativity throughout the process. SAL is most effective when dealing with complex projects that involve disadvantaged communities where it is pertinent to take an improvisational approach that needs to be adapted to meet community needs and desires that cannot be anticipated.

SAL stresses the importance of accounting for social and cultural contexts in addition to research. Since there was not necessarily one correct answer for our project, it was vital to develop trusting relationships with community members so that through collaboration the correct path was chosen to reflect the interests of all parties involved. This was achieved by reaching out to sponsors and by preparing multiple plans and ideas. While in Cape Town, it was important to reflect and observe how community members are responding to the team’s ideas and actions to ensure overall satisfaction. In addition to understanding the community’s response, it was vital to observe reactions amongst our group to uphold dynamics and ensure all ideas and views were equally heard and considered.

Developing several plans for multiple outcomes was critical. Part of these plans was developing visual ways to communicate with the community members of the informal settlement and some of the project’s partners such as a créche construction guide. The community wanted to be involved and our team developed a plan that worked hand in hand with them to get them interested in providing their input. As the team did this, it was important to keep an open-minded approach and look for disconfirming evidence. As opposed to conventional learning, disconfirming evidence is used to disprove personal assumptions about the environment. This approach was used to avoid misguided preconceptions and allow the team to have several alternatives to tackle the real problem. Finally, the team spent adequate time trying to understand the context around the project and strive to become part of a healthy ‘contextual exchange’ – an environment where the team, stakeholders, and community members work collectively to achieve the same goal while appreciating this process as a learning opportunity. As the team integrated into the planning and execution of the project (CTPC SAL, 2014).


CTPC. Shared Action Learning Project Development. from