Friday, January 18, 2019: 8:00 AM-9:30 AM
Continental Parlor 8, Ballroom Level (Hilton San Francisco)
Cluster: Communities and Neighborhoods (C&N)
Mary Ohmer, PhD, University of Pittsburgh, Claudia Coulton, PhD, Case Western Reserve University, Joanne Sobeck, PhD, Wayne State University and Jamie Booth, University of Pittsburgh
Social work researchers are increasingly interested in communities and neighborhoods as a focus for their studies. This interest has numerous origins including the emphasis on population wellbeing, the need to measure social determinants like housing as part of research on health disparities, and the evolution of evidenced-based community practice. However, social workers methodological training may have focused more on measurement techniques and instruments appropriate for individuals rather than larger units of social organization such as neighborhoods and communities. The goal of this workshop is to provide an overview of the key concepts and variables that are of interest in community research, and delve into the methods, tools and instruments that are available to measure them. Drawing on a thorough review and critique of the literature, the presenters will provide a framework for understanding the dimensions of community measurement. Next, the presenters will cover various methods of delineating the community as a unit of analysis and some of the practical aspect of community data collection. The presenters will also review and evaluate existing measurement scales and methods touching on the following topics: community capacity and readiness for change; collective action; community connections and processes; empowerment and engagement; resources and resident satisfaction; built environment and healthy living; housing and neighborhood change; disorder, crime and violence; place-based social exclusion; and community wellbeing and quality of life. Throughout the workshop, participants will be engaged in exercises to explore the major domains from the framework, see how they match up with various community concepts, and think about the best ways to measure the important variables across levels. They will come away with an understanding of the methodological challenges that are particular to community and neighborhood measurement, an awareness of the scales, metrics and tools that are available and an ability to critically evaluate the measurement approaches that are being utilized. Finally, there will be an open dialog about future directions of social work research on communities and neighborhoods and of key areas where further work on measurement methods would be most essential.
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