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Data Collection Techniques for Community Assessment

With the use of data collection techniques, community assessments can be conducted thoroughly and thereby accurately enough to gain a true picture of the communities needs over any amount of time. This helps gain a better perspective on what resources should be made available and what new initiatives might be helpful in reaching community goals.

In conducting community assessments there are three basic approaches to gaining information. There are three various data collection techniques:

  • Primary data collection
  • Secondary data collection
  • Other standard methods

Of these three types of data collection techniques, Primary Data Collection is the more direct approach while use of the other standard methods is reserved for fact checking and statistical research of any facts gained by the other two methods.

Primary Data Collection Techniques

Primary Data Collection Techniques deal mainly with data gained directly from the clients or target population. These data collection techniques can be broken down into seven types.

  • General population survey
  • Subpopulation and key informant surveys – town leaders, well known individuals, groups and associations
  • Observations – where the researcher is known/unknown or a participant
  • Case studies – life histories, histories of an issue within communities, agency history
  • Social networks analysis – includes reputations, decisions and titles of office holders
  • Group studies – focus groups, brainstorming, community task force or advisory committee

Secondary Data Collection Techniques

Secondary Data Collection Techniques deal with information which has already been collected and published from other sources. Such data collection techniques can be grouped into two main categories.

  • Public sources – US census, Consumer Price Index, unemployment figures, opinion polls, and governmental budgets
  • Unusual and accessible community sources – road maps, Yellow Pages, newspapers, historic memorabilia, yearbooks and bulletin boards

Other Data Collection Techniques

Other data collection techniques are involved to make use of the use of various data collection tools which are more standard but do not fall into either main category. These would include the following sources:

  • County and City Data Book – which is published every five years since 1947 by the US Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census in Washington D.C.
  • Statistical Abstract of the United States – which is published annually by the US Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census in Washington D.C.
  • Decennial Census of Population and Housing
  • Census of Agriculture – which is published about every five years by the US Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census in Washington D.C.

With the use of these data collection techniques, community assessments can be conducted thoroughly and thereby accurately enough to gain a true picture of the communities needs over any amount of time. This helps gain a better perspective on what resources should be made available and what new initiatives might be helpful in reaching community goals.

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