Table 1. Cycles, areas, and modes of learning

Cycles of learning (Gunderson et al. 1995, Westley 2002) Modes of learning (Lee 1999) Areas of learning (May 1992)
“Incremental learning occurs as plans, models, and policies are implemented and evaluated. Models or schemas are assumed to be correct, and learning is characterized by collecting data or information to update those models.” (Gunderson et al. 2006) “Laboratory experiments: controlled observation to infer cause; replicated to assure reliable knowledge; enabling prediction, design, control; theory (it works, but range of applicability may be narrow).” (Lee 1999) “Instrumental policy learning about the viability of specific instruments or programs.” (Lal et al. 2001)
“Episodic learning is discontinuous in time and space. It can be generated by ecological regime shifts that reveal the inadequacies of the underlying models or policies.” (Gunderson et al. 2006) “Adaptive management: systematic monitoring to detect surprise; integrated assessment to build system knowledge; informing model-building to structure debate; strong inference (but learning may not produce timely prediction or control).” (Lee 1999) “Social policy learning about social constructions of policy problems, the scope of policy, or policy goals.” (Lal et al. 2001)
“Transformational learning is the most profound form of learning. Cross-scale surprises or the emergence of novelty characterize this type of change. In these cases, learning requires the reframing of problem domains.” (Gunderson et al. 2006) “Trial and error: problem-oriented observation; extended to analogous instances; to solve or mitigate particular problems; empirical knowledge (it works but may be inconsistent & surprising).” (Lee 1999) “Political learning, during which stakeholders become more knowledgeable about policy process and negotiating skills.” (Lal et al. 2001)
“Unmonitored experience: casual observation ; applied anecdotally; to identify plausible solutions to intractable problems; models of reality (test is political, not practical, feasibility).” (Lee 1999)