Action Learning Tools

Orientation – Action Learning

We believe in an approach to evaluation that can change fundamentally how the work of social change or development is done. We see evaluation as an opportunity to strengthen collaboration, decision-making, action-taking, and knowledge generation. This approach to evaluation, which we call Action Learning (borrowing from other, similar approaches), can help to shift how an organization, initiative, or movement collectively builds strategies, implements the work of social change, and makes sense of it. Through the prioritization of core values such as inclusiveness, participatory approaches to knowledge production and exchange, and exploration of systems dynamics and power relations, Action Learning can be a catalyst for transformative social change and development.

Generally, we think about Action Learning as consisting of ongoing cycles of evaluation, sensemaking, planning, and action-taking. For a more detailed account of the process and its considerations, take a look at our blog.We usually kick-off the approach with a situation analysis process (see below), which involves planning the process and developing tools to gather insights about the current situation, implementing the tools to gather this information, and engaging in collective sensemaking around what the information about the current contexts means for program development and ongoing decision-making, which will lead to more action-taking based on the decisions made following sensemaking, more data collection following by the critical process of sensemaking and so on… While this is a general overview, the Action Learning process will look different for each project and within projects cycles.

Action Learning Approach

Action Learning Approach


Participatory Action Learning Tools & Agenda


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The following are tools – how to guides including documentation forms – and agendas that we have used in support of Action Learning across diverse contexts, with a variety of allies, and in support of different types of programs and initiatives. We encourage you to use, adapt and share with us (and others!) how the tools have worked for you, modifications that were made, and challenges that were faced.

While we strive to share our work, we are busy doing the work, so forgive any editing and proofreading errors!

EVALUATE – Participatory Action Research, Data Collection


Social Mapping

Social Mapping

MAKE SENSE – Participatory Analysis, Collective Reflection


Group-Level Knowledge Tree

Group-Level Knowledge Tree


PLAN – Visioning, Decision-Making




  • Vision Analysis
  • Sample Visioning Meeting Agenda (to be added)

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