|Changing Public Behavior|
Educator Self-Study Module
What are social assessment tools and what can they do for natural resource professionals?
Social assessment tools are techniques that social scientists and educators apply to learn more about the social dimensions of a particular community. Table 1 provides a list and brief description of nine different types of social assessment tools that we recommend for natural resource professionals.
Social science tools can be used to learn more about the following broad characteristics of a community of interest:
For more details about each of these broad community characteristics refer to this extensive Web site resource provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: NOAA Social Science Theme Areas
The following list* provides an additional way of categorizing the social dimensions of a particular community:
Information relating to the social dimensions of a particular community can be of either qualitative or quantitative nature.
Qualitative data generally includes non-numerical information relating to:
Quantitative data relates to numerical information about a community that is gathered and then analyzed statistically to reveal certain trends and patterns relating to various demographic and/or economic issues.
Qualitative and quantitative methods and the data they generate each have certain advantages and disadvantages. Qualitative data tends to be gathered in an interactive manner with community members and is very localized and specific in nature. It is challenging to make generalizations about an entire community of interest based upon the individualized views and perceptions of different community members. Quantitative data on the other hand tends to be gathered in a less interactive manner and is more easily generalizable often at the cost of overlooking internal diversity in terms of the views and perceptions of various members of the community. A complementary qualitative/quantitative approach for learning more about a community’s characteristics is the ideal. This allows for information to be verified and cross checked from a variety of approaches – a process called triangulation in the social sciences.
STEP 4. Collect audience information relevant to the environmental practice and specific behaviors