Activity 5.8 The SONDEO

Activity 5.8. The SONDEO

Resource for Lesson 5.8

Butler, Lorna M. (1995). The 'SONDEO': A Rapid Reconnaissance Approach for Situational Assessment. WREP127, Partnership in Education and Research.


The SONDEO brings together observation, interview, and participatory research using a team approach. Exploring The SONDEO in this activity provides a great opportunity to consider social assessment from a variety of perspectives, and consider how you would apply it in your situation.

PROBLEM: Show how you would use the SONDEO method to improve your understanding of the human dimension or social aspect of an environmental management problem you are investigating.


1. Review background information, The 'SONDEO': A Rapid Reconnaissance Approach for Situational Assessment.

2. Choose a situation you would like to explore, in brief. Then choose one of the following goals to pursue, as a hypothetical problem.

    • Identify problems, constraints, costs or benefits
    • Identify potential solutions
    • Assess impacts
    • Obtain more depth of information. Why? How?
    • Describe or understand social relationships
    • Obtain a more accurate picture of cultural or social class groups different than the investigator's own
    • As background for development of a more focused quantitative study


Outline, in a one-to-two-page-plan, how you would use the SONDEO method to accurately describe an existing situation, or behavior pattern for the situation, along with the assessment goal you’ve identified. Address as many of the following points as you can. This activity would probably be most enjoyable if studied in collaboration with a colleague.

  1. Describe the situation.
  2. Describe the goal for your SONDEO assessment.
  3. Describe how your team would use the information you develop from the process of applying the SONDEO technique.
  4. Give several examples of people who would be appropriate to include on the SONDEO team, and why you chose them.
  5. Describe orientation and interview training that you would provide.
  6. Give a few examples of relevant interview topics.
  7. Give several examples of people your team would choose to interview (interviewees). a. Develop one interview topic example, providing details for how you would use an ethnographic approach, as described in the background information, with an interviewee.
  8. Describe how you would organize the field work process.
  9. Describe how your team would document interviewees' comments.
  10. Describe how you would share information about each interview, and an overview of the day.
  11. Assess your process. Was the SONDEO a useful technique for the information you wanted to gather? Why or why not?

Summarize your plan. Describe your process. How could you use this skill in your work?

If you would like a review of your proposed process, email a copy to one of the instructors Instructors will review and comment on your plan.


In Assignment 5.8, you will review and refine content you've outlined for Steps 1 – 4 of the planning tool, add detail to STEP 4, using information and skills you learned in Unit 5. apply what you learned to your own project plan, using the Educating about Behavior and the Environment planning tool.

Last modified: Wednesday, February 5, 2014, 3:45 PM