AEA365 | A Tip-a-Day by and for Evaluators



Margaret Riel on Learning Circles

My name is Margaret Riel and I am a Senior Researcher at SRI-International and I Co-Chair the Masters in Arts in Learning Technologies at Pepperdine University that is centered around action research. I am also the Director of the Center for Collaborative Action Research.

My research focuses on social capital and strategies of school reform that involve teacher collaboration. I have been creating and supporting Learning Circles in a range of contexts for over 25 years (  Recently AEA invited me to work with fourteen “Learning Circles Fellows” to help them add this skill to their evaluation strategies.

Rad Resource: As part of the work for AEA, I am developing a wiki-website (interactive) that brings together the people who find learning circles effective in their professional work ( The learning circle model balances individual ownership and group investment in a collaborative format.   This includes students, teachers, professors, and action and evaluation researchers.  The AEA community might be interested in seeing how the AEA Learning Circles Fellows have been using learning circles in their professional work (

Rad Resource: Action Research involves “change” (and sometimes program) evaluation.  At the Center for Collaborative Action Research ( we have designed another wiki-website (interactive) to enable those who support action research to share their teaching strategies.  I invite you to share teaching strategies or resources you know of to help support action researchers.  This is a “living document” that will continue to evolve as a guide for developing action researchers as well as collecting outcomes and reflections from action researchers.

This contribution is from the aea365 Daily Tips blog, by and for evaluators, from the American Evaluation Association. Please consider contributing – send a note of interest to

1 comment

  • Kees de Bot · February 25, 2016 at 1:03 am

    Dear Dr. Riel,
    My friend Jim Skelly demo the Centre for critical thinking in Hungary suggested I contact you about the following: we are setting up a large project on language learning and teaching for the masses refugees in Europe. The guiding idea is that we make learners responsible for their own development and that that takes place in groups that are probably similar to your learning circles. Groups of medical people or care mechanics are brought together to help each other in learning German, dutch or Swedish. It fits with ‘The learning circle model balances individual ownership and group investment in a collaborative format.
    I was wondering whether you have any experience with language learning in learning circles.
    Kind regards,
    Kees de Bot


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