Action learning

“… a continuous process of learning and reflection, supported by colleagues, with an intention of getting things done.” 1

Adult learning principles

Adult learning is a process of self directed inquiry.2 Adult learning principles include: “… autonomous and self directed learning … connection of life experience and knowledge…goal and relevancy oriented … practical … and affording of respect …” 3

Capacity building

The development of skills, abilities, relationships and networks between and within individuals and groups within a defined community.


Individuals within a community.


Groups who share a common sense of belonging and where there is a level of trust between members:

  • Geographical – based around where people live, such as neighbourhood, suburb or town.
  • Interest – based around common interests, such as conservation, social justice or sporting interest.
  • Identity – based on sharing a common identity such as age, culture or lifestyle. 4

Community capacity

“… consists of the networks, organisation, attitudes, leadership and skills that allow communities to manage change and sustain community-led development …” 5

Community engagement

“… mutual communication and deliberation that occurs between government and citizens. It allows citizens and government to participate mutually in the formulation of policy and the provision of government services ...” 6

(see stakeholder engagement)

Community profile

“Community profiling involves documenting: the social environment in order to develop a more detailed understanding of the historical background of the community; the statistical profile of the community; contemporary issues; political and social structures; culture; and, attitudes towards the proposal or proposed change.” 7

Community strengthening

“… is a process whereby communities, government, business and philanthropic organisations work together to achieve agreed social, economic and environmental outcomes.” 8


To work with communities to accelerate the rate of change in particular aspects of endeavour, over and above that being realised through the normal activities of the marketplace. Often used in the context of agricultural or natural resource management activities.

Human capacity

The collective skills and abilities of individuals within a community.

Learning style

This concept seeks to explain how different people prefer to learn in different ways. Effective learners rely on all four different learning modes: active, reflective, theoretical and pragmatic. These learning styles coincide with stages in the action learning cycle: experiencing, reviewing, concluding and planning. 9

Project system

The social, environmental, cultural and economic conditions in which the project exists. These conditions can influence and have impact upon the implementation and outcome of a project.

Project team

A group of people working together to develop a process and take action to achieve their project goals.

Social capacity

The sum of the relationships and trust between individuals within a community.

Social capital

The networks and relationships that foster trust, reciprocity and social cohesion.


Individuals and/or groups with an interest in an activity and/or outcome. Stakeholders may be internal or external to the organisation and may be direct or indirect beneficiaries of an activity or outcome.

Stakeholder engagement

Stakeholder engagement is a way of thinking about external audiences and their relationship to organisational outcomes. It implies a longer term relationship where both parties have a mutual interest in, and ability to impact upon, the project outcomes.

Your external stakeholders may not necessarily be outside the organisation. They can also include those internal to the organisation but, external to your unit, program or project.

(see community engagement)


1 McGill, I & Beaty, L (2001) Action learning: a guide for professional, management & educational development, Kogan Page, London

2 Knowles, MS (1970) The modern practice of adult education: andragogy verses pedogagy, New York Association Press

3 Lieb, S (1991) Principles of adult learning, Arizona Department of Health Services/South Mountain Community College, Vision, USA


5 Cavaye, JM (2000) ‘The role of government in community capacity building’, Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries information series, QI99804, Queensland Government

6 Cavaye, Dr. J (2001) 'Community engagement framework project: scoping and review paper', Cavaye Community Development/CEO Committee on Land Resources, Queensland citing OECD (2001) ‘Engaging Citizens in policy-making: information, consultation and public participation’, PUMA policy brief No 10, July 2001, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

7 Fenton, DM & Coakes, SJ (1998) ‘Social impact assessment and water resource management: an application of TC analysis’, unpublished paper, Sheridan Coakes Consulting, November 1998:4


9 For an inventory of learning styles, see Honey, P & Mumford, A (1992) The manual of learning styles, Honey Press, Maidenhead, UK.