Document Type


Journal/Book Title

Ecology and Society

Publication Date







After much debate and synthesis, social learning scholarship is entering an era of empirical research. Given the range across individual-, network-, and systems-level perspectives and scales, clear documentation of social learning processes is critical for making claims about social learning outcomes and their impacts. Past studies have relied on participant recall and concept maps to document perceptions of social learning process and outcome. Using an individual-centric perspective and importing ideas from communication and psychology on question-answer learning through conversational agents, we contribute an expanded conceptual framework and qualitative analytical strategy for assessing stakeholder dialogue for evidence of social learning. We observed stakeholder dialogue across five workshops coordinated for the Bruneau-Owyhee Sage-Grouse Habitat Project (BOSH) in Owyhee County, Idaho, USA. Participants’ dialogue was audio recorded, transcribed, and analyzed for cross-case patterns. Deductive and inductive coding techniques were applied to illuminate cognitive, relational, and epistemic dimensions of learning and topics of learning. A key finding supports our inclusion of the epistemic dimension and highlights a need for future research: although some participants articulated epistemic positions, they did not challenge each other to share sources or justify factual claims. These findings align with previous research suggesting that, in addition to considering diversity and representation (who is at the table), we should pay more attention to how participants talk, perhaps prompting specific patterns of speech as we endeavor to draw causal connections between social learning processes and outcomes.