Virtual - Social Science Basics for Coastal Managers

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The social sciences are a valuable but often overlooked element of coastal zone management. Issues from marsh restoration to flood mitigation all involve understanding critical human elements— knowledge, values, and attitudes—of the people who live, work, and play in these areas. Topics to choose from for this online course include Understanding Stakeholders, Conducting Interviews, and Writing Effective Survey Questions.

The Office for Coastal Management also offers an instructor-led, onsite version of this course.


Hosts of this training can customize their workshop by selecting one or more of the following social science modules that focus on various disciplines including understanding stakeholder basics, interviewing for data collection, and writing survey questions.

To host this virtual course, contact us at

Module 1: Understanding Stakeholders

This live, online 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.

Learning Outcomes

  • 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

Duration: 2.5 hours

Module 2: Conducting Interviews

This live, online module provides participants with the knowledge to create an “interview guide” tool and conduct effective interviews that can be used in multiple resource management settings.

Learning Outcomes

  • Recognize three types of interviews, as well as their purposes, strengths, and limitations
  • Construct an interview guide using best practices for question construction and sequencing
  • Design and conduct a mock interview, ensuring that all components are included
  • Critique mock interviews and identify best practices and common pitfalls for execution of an interview

Duration: 2 hours

Module 3: Writing Effective Survey Questions

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 live, online module serves to provide coastal managers with best practices to write more effective survey questions.

Learning Outcomes

  • 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

Duration: 1.5-2 hours

Module 4: Analyzing Qualitative Data

This module provides participants with the knowledge and skills to analyze qualitative information from surveys, interviews, and focus groups.

Learning Outcomes

  • Describe key differences between qualitative and quantitative data types
  • Identify and utilize basic approaches of inductive and deductive analyses
  • Code, categorize, and sort data

Target audience: Coastal and natural resource managers who conduct applied social science research and stakeholder engagement activities in their work

Duration: 2.5 hours


Participant Requirements

  • Internet connection
  • Webcam
  • Headset, or speakers and a microphone
  • Access to Google Meet and Adobe Connect
  • Training handouts accessible (preferably printed)

Professional Credit

American Institute of Certified Planners – one to five hours (depending on the number of modules attended)

Association of Floodplain Managers – one to five hours (depending on the number of modules attended)

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Virtual - Social Science Basics for Coastal Managers
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