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Conducting Needs Assessments

The first step in developing an Extension program is conducting a needs assessment. This systematic approach seeks information from clientele or secondary sources as to a gap or need – a societal, personal, economic, or environmental issue, for instance, that must be addressed and that requires some planned actions to have a positive impact on improving or changing the identified situation. The following resources provide information on conducting needs assessments.

Using an Evaluation for a Needs Assessment (PDF)
This fact sheet by Nancy Ellen Kiernan, Penn State University, is a step by step guide on how to use an evaluation to gather data on needs. 2008.

Needs Assessment
This website by Lena Etuk and Sam Angima, Oregon State University Cooperative Extension, focuses on needs assessment with informational resources and recorded webinars, presentations and working templates. An array of materials focused on needs assessment.

Preparing for a Collaborative Community Assessment
This fact sheet by Community Development, Data Information and Analysis Laboratory, Iowa State University, offers a step by step guide to conducting a community assessment. Outlines an easy to follow process to determine needs. 2001.

Conducting a Community Assessment (PDF)
This how to brochure by CCF Communities Empowering Youth Program's National Resource Center, is from a series by Strengthening Nonprofits: A Capacity Builder's Resource Library that contains guidebooks and e-learning opportunities. Excellent resource and guidance document for conducting community assessments. Geared toward health and social issues, but sound advice for any programmatic area. 2010.

Using Secondary Data to Build Strong Extension Programs
This fact sheet by Cheri Winton Brodeur, Glenn D. Israel, and Diane D. Craig, University of Florida, discusses how to use secondary data to better define clients' situations, needs and interests in program planning and determining program impact. A good step by step guide with resource links to several secondary data sources relevant to Extension programming.

Beyond Needs Assessments: Identifying a Community's Resources and Hopes (PDF)
This fact sheet by Eugene C. Roehlkepartain, National Service Learning Center, discusses the importance of and ways of determining what a community has, wants, and hopes before conducting a service-learning project. Practical advice for using strength-based assessments as opposed to needs assessments. 2008.

Use of the PRKC Tool in Assessment of Staff Development Needs: Experiences from California
This Journal of Extension article by Katherine Heck, Aarti Subramaniam and Ramona Carlos, University of California-Davis, reviews the experiences of the authors in using the Professional Research, Knowledge, and Competency (PRKC) tool in assessing staff development needs among 4-H staff members in California. 2009.

Obtaining High-Quality, "Low-Maintenance" Stakeholder Input: How to Create a Virtual Extension Program Advisory Committee
This Journal of Extension article by Barbara O'Neill, Rutgers University, discusses using e-mail as a means to outreach to a stakeholder advisory group. 2010.

Social Impact Assessment in Extension Educational Programming
This Journal of Extension article by Michael Score, University of Kentucky, focuses on whether or not Extension programming can be enhanced by inclusion of social impact assessments before initiatives are pursued at the county level. It is written to provoke reflection about previous and existing trends in program planning. 1995.