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Unit Eleven
Community Analysis and Outcomes: STEM Needs and Interests

In previous units, we considered scientific thinking and inquiry, and gained a foundational understanding of adult learning. Over the past several months, we’ve applied this knowledge to planning and implementing four new Pushing the Limits programs. As you begin the third phase of the Rural Gateways project, it will be useful to gather and analyze information about your community that focuses on its specific STEM interests and needs. The information that you gather through targeted community analysis will inform the development of STEM programs for adults in your community.

In Unit Eleven, you will:

    • Develop techniques for community analysis that focus on STEM interests, needs, and issues
  • Consider the application of community analysis data to outcomes-based program planning

The goal of community analysis is to gather information that will help you better understand your community today, and how it may change tomorrow. Most likely your library is already using a variety of methods to collect data that tell you about the needs and interests of your service populations and the businesses, organizations and institutions in your community. Most public libraries follow community analysis and planning guidelines established by their city agency and/or state library (or similar funding body), and they often supplement this information with more customized approaches that yield data about unique aspects of their community. Our focus in this unit will be to consider techniques that will help you identify STEM-related interests and needs of adults in your community.

  • Download Community Analysis for STEM Interests and Needs. This will help you adapt community analysis methods and tools that you currently use to include data collection about STEM topics.arrow icons
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You can build on your existing community analysis methods. Data you already collect can be looked at in new ways to discern possible science topics and issues that are important to your community. As you watch the next video, consider what census data can tell you about STEM issues in your community.

Unit Eleven, Video One
Using Census Data to Identify Community STEM Needs and Interests

Surveys, interviews, and focus groups with individuals in your community provide excellent opportunities to gather STEM-related information. Consider adapting existing community analysis tools to incorporate the following types of questions:

    • What STEM topics and issues are important to individuals in your community?
    • Consider STEM topics that are part of their everyday activities, such as hobbies, family life health, careers and finances.
    • What are residents’ perceptions of the library as a STEM resource for the community?
    • What role(s) do they see for the library in meeting their STEM needs and interests?
  • What are some of the ways you can adapt community analysis methods and tools that you currently use to include data collection about STEM topics?

Unit Eleven, Video Two
Quantitative and Qualitative Analysis
Using Data to Inform STEM Planning and Decision-Making

How will you use the information you’ve collected to plan services, programs, and collections that support informal STEM learning? How might the information help you make decisions about the library practices and functions, staffing, and use of library spacing?
Begin by considering how your library might contribute to the needs identified through your community analysis. In other words, use an outcomes-based approach, which is an approach that focuses on ways that the library benefits the community and its residents.

When you use an outcomes-based approach, you consider how library services, programs, and/or resources might change an individual’s knowledge, skills, behaviors, attitudes, condition or status. The Public Library Association has initiated Project Outcome, which provides tools and resources to measure public library outcomes. You will want to become familiar with this initiative as you consider outcomes from your library. Project Outcome can be accessed at:

The following video explains how to model an outcomes-based approach in relation to STEM programming and the value of thinking in terms of desired outcomes.

Unit Eleven, Video Three
Outcomes-Based Decision-Making
    • Download Outcomes for STEM Library Programs for Adults and use it to draft at least two needs-related outcomes that you identified in your community analysis, and that future adult STEM library programs might address.
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