U2d2-28 – describe, analyze, define the problem, how and include

U2 Discussion 2  – Situational Analysis Framework of Needs Assessment

Review the three articles on public needs assessment projects that is attached to this unit’s studies. 

1. Describe and compare the articles in terms of the conceptualization of community needs assessment projects’ framework for process effectiveness and stakeholder representation.

2. Analyze the situational analysis framework of the needs and methodology used in measuring the problem concepts.

3. Operationally, define the problem concepts as to which levels of measurement of the needs can be identified. 

4. How indicators of readiness are assessed? 

5. How the community and subgroups within it brought up to a state of readiness?

6. You must include a description of each project, anything that is obvious to you about how they compare and contrast, and who is or could be involved in each project. 

7. Based on what you have learned about these projects, determine whether the right people are involved on each NAC, from both community and government perspectives?

U2 – Conceptualization of Community Needs Assessment Framework


Perhaps the most difficult parts of starting a community needs assessment planning process are defining the problem concept and making sure the right people are in the room for those discussions. Because their interests are at stake, these right people are needed to form the needs assessment committee (NAC) for tackling the problem analysis. Our public problems are often big—very big!

And, we cannot solve the whole problem in one pass. The resources required are often impossible to muster. Also, the impetus for developing understanding and etiology of the social condition and measurement of the problem concept is

imperative for determining the scope of the needs-based situational analysis. In reality, we need to narrow our definition of what we can accomplish to ensure that what we tackle is something that is doable and realistic.

Similarly, not having the right people in the room for the discussion is as bad as trying to address a problem that is too big. The public is not just a homogeneous mass; different interest groups have differing perspectives depending on the issue.  What serves one group hurts another. For example, the appropriate uses of scarce water may differ if you are sitting in the chairs of agricultural interests, environmentalists, recreational water use enthusiasts, and government water districts.  

Missing one of these groups in the room means that the project can be perceived as closed and slanted in terms of decision making. Understanding how to involve the right people and even identifying them in the first place is a component to the successful kick-off of a needs assessment project. All of these thus point to gaining the understanding of the methodology used in conceptualizing the framework of a community needs assessment project.

The framework for conceptualizing community needs assessment can be initiated at four levels of operationalizing the definition of the problem concept: normative need, felt or perceived need, expressed need, and comparative or relative need. The definition of the problem concept is thus the precursor for identifying and understanding the situational analysis framework (SAF) of the need, and the methodologies used in determining at which level of measurement of the need can be identified.


To successfully complete this learning unit, you will be expected to:

1. Demonstrate understanding of the situational analysis framework of the need and methodology used in measuring the problem concept.

2. Define the problem concept operationally as a precursor for determining at which levels of measurement of the needs can be identified.

3. Compare the conceptualization of community needs assessment project’s framework for process effectiveness and stakeholder representation.

U2 Readings – Focusing the Needs Assessment


Note: Be certain to read the unit introduction, as it may contain important information and references pertaining to this unit’s content and activities.

Use your Designing and Managing Programs text to complete the following:

Read Chapter 3, “Understanding Social Problems,” pages 35–47.

Read Chapter 4, “Needs Assessment: Theoretical Considerations,” pages 49–65.

Read Chapter 5, ” Needs Assessment: Approaches to Measurement,” pages 67–86.

Media – Transcript

Sometimes, the hardest part of beginning a public issue needs assessment is defining the scope and concept of what the problem is. What can be addressed without being overwhelming?

Read Focusing the Needs Assessment to learn more about how to begin this process of narrowing the problem to focus on something manageable.

Use the library to complete the following:

Read Balogh, Whitelaw, and Thompson’s 2008 article, “Rapid Needs Appraisal in the Modern NHS: Potential and Dilemmas,” from Critical Public Health, volume 18, issue 2, pages 233–244.

Read the 2004 article “BOCES Receives a $242,000 Grant Emergency Response Plans” from Hudson Valley Business Journal, volume 15, issue 26, page 27.

Read Couzens’s 2001 article, “Needs Assessment Adopted by County,” from Las Vegas Business Press, volume 18, issue 4, page 7.

Article Search

In preparation for this unit’s discussions, see the attached three peer-reviewed articles on public needs assessment projects.  They must be referenced and read for the attached discussions.

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