Social Science Basics for Coastal Managers

  • April 09, 2020
  • 9:00 AM - 4:30 PM
  • Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary
  • 32



Course Description

The social sciences are a valuable but often overlooked element of coastal zone management. Issues from marsh restoration to flood mitigation all involve critical human elements— knowledge, values, and attitudes—of the people that live, work, and play in these areas. This training provides the basic knowledge and skills to help coastal managers understand their stakeholders.  The course will be conducted by NOAA with partner support from the Chesapeake Bay Sentinel Site Cooperative.

Coffee and lunch provided!


Module 1: Understanding Stakeholders

Duration: 2-4 hours

This module introduces the novice participant to prominent social science disciplines, important social science questions, and ways in which social science can be used to meaningfully and systematically engage stakeholders.

You will learn how to:

  • Recall the major social science disciplines and their applicability to coastal zone management        
  • Identify and incorporate behavioral considerations from the social sciences in defining a problem
  • Conduct a stakeholder analysis
  • Evaluate the strengths and limitations of different stakeholder engagement techniques

Module 2: Writing Effective Survey Questions

Duration: 1.5 hours

Surveys are a popular information collection tool to help coastal managers understand their stakeholders and quickly assess large populations. Unfortunately, because of their popularity, many people untrained in survey creation administer poorly designed surveys that yield questionable results. This module serves to provide coastal managers with best practices to write more effective survey questions.

You will learn how to:

  • Review and critique surveys, and identify common mistakes in question design
  • Incorporate 25 best practices when creating survey questions
  • Create appropriate question layout and design
  • Identify ways to improve survey questions that yield desired data types

Module 3: Leading Focus Groups 

Duration: 2-4 hours

This module offers the novice user an introduction to the practice of planning and administering focus groups as a research and engagement tool. Participants will achieve a better understanding of the appropriate use of focus groups, as well as best practices and approaches.

You will learn how to:

  • Recognize when it is appropriate to use a focus group to gather information
  • Identify the strengths and limitations of using a focus group
  • Successfully plan and conduct a focus group Design and participate in a mock focus group, ensuring that all components are included
  • Critique a mock focus group, and identify best practices and common pitfalls
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