Forum 5.5 Choose assessment tool


Forum 5.5 Practicum: Choose an assessment tool

Resources for this activity:

Alkon, A. H. (2004). Place, stories, and consequences - heritage narratives and the control of erosion on lake county, California, vineyards. Organization & Environment, 17(2), 145-169. [NOTE: The Water Outreach Target Audience database includes 3 findings. The link takes you to the first one. Search on Alkon for the other two.]

Changing Public Behavior Self Study Modules, STEP 4. Collect audience information relevant to the environmental practice and specific behaviors.

See especially: 

Changing Public Behavior, Workshop Materials. 7-Step Process in Practice: a Case Study example (Arkansas case study).


Suppose that you are looking for qualitative information about how decisions are made about an environmental situation within a particular community.

You want to design an outreach program [about – – pick your subject] that works with and through existing local power structures in order to effectively promote community participation and the goals of the particular outreach effort.

You need to learn more about the local situation in order to implement an effective strategy.

You have 2 weeks to plan the initiative, limited financial resources, but good observation and listening skills.

You also know that several individual members of the "community of interest" are willing to volunteer their time to help you with your assessment.

Last, you have been in contact with a local non-governmental organization that conducts environmental awareness campaigns within the community on a regular basis and is willing to assist you by sharing pre-existing information about the community with you.

Given your purpose or reason for conducting the assessment and the kinds of resources available to do so, what combination of social assessment tools would be ideal?

For help in developing your answer, review online content about the pros and cons of different tools. Then check your answer with Self-Study Module guidelines for selection, listed in the Resources for this activity.

For inspiration, read a study by Alkon (2004), who used anthropological techniques to better understand the point of view of California grape growers toward managing erosion. Findings from her study are listed in the Water Outreach Target Audience database. Access the study through your local University or library.


What combination of tools did you suggest? How did your recommendations compare with the “guidelines for selection”? Share your results, comments, and questions with other course participants.



Put it all together. Refine your strategy in Lesson 5.6. Then analyze sample data. In Assignment 5.6 you will practice using several common assessment tools with some simple activity assignments.

Before you focus on specific tools, take a few more minutes to think about the big picture. Use the Arkansas case study to review points you learned in Lessons 5.2 and 5.3.

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