How assessment and reflection relate to more effective learning in adaptive management

Harry Biggs, Charles Breen, Rob Slotow, Stefanie Freitag, Marc Hockings
Koedoe | Vol 53, No 2 | a1001 | DOI: | © 2011 Harry Biggs, Charles Breen, Rob Slotow, Stefanie Freitag, Marc Hockings | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 10 May 2010 | Published: 11 May 2011

About the author(s)

Harry Biggs, South African National Parks, Skukuza, South Africa
Charles Breen, Centre for Environment, Agriculture and Development, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Rob Slotow, School of Biological and Conservation Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Stefanie Freitag, South African National Parks, Skukuza, South Africa
Marc Hockings, School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management, University of Queensland, Australia


Assessment (an immediate evaluation of significance or performance) and reflection (a lengthy, deep consideration) should be important components of adaptive management leading to learning. In this paper we use a prototype adaptive cycle and feedback framework, which are related to some aspects of learning theory, to examine the extent to which assessment and reflection were applied in a series of studies and initiatives in the Kruger National Park. In addition to evaluating assessment and reflection, we also considered how the various contributing components of each case were inter-related to provide a holistic view of each initiative.

Two other studies in the Kruger National Park, which have examined learning specifically, are also discussed. One of them suggests that in a complex environment, learning necessarily has a dual nature, with each component of seven contrasting pairs of the aspects of learning in partial tension with the other. We use these dualities to further probe assessment, reflection, inter-relatedness and learning in the cases presented. Each contrasting aspect of a ‘learning duality’ turns out to emphasise either assessment or reflection, which reinforces the idea that both are needed to facilitate sufficient learning for successful adaptive management. We hope this analysis can act as a springboard for further study, practice and reflection on these important and often underrated components of adaptive management.

Conservation implications: The better understanding of assessment and reflection as being largely separate but complementary actions will assist adaptive management practitioners to give explicit attention to both, and to relate them better to each other.


strategic adaptive management, learning organisation, feedbacks


Total abstract views: 6518
Total article views: 18153


Crossref Citations

1. A combination of active learning strategies improves student academic outcomes in first-year paramedic bioscience
Puspha Sinnayah, Joseph A. Rathner, Daniel Loton, Rudi Klein, Peter Hartley
Advances in Physiology Education  vol: 43  issue: 2  first page: 233  year: 2019  
doi: 10.1152/advan.00199.2018