Steps for Choosing Effective Outreach Techniques
1. Describe the environmental concern or opportunity.
2. Identify preliminary target audience(s).
3. Determine specific actions citizens need to take to accomplish your management goal.
4. Collect audience information relevant to the environmental practices and specific behaviors.
5. Assess potential for adoption of single behaviors and the environmental practice.
6. Select single behaviors for intervention focus.
7. Select intervention technique(s).
Step 7. Select intervention technique(s)
Monitor and evaluate
Evaluation helps you reflect on a program, make changes in it, and make decisions about it. Plan provides you with techniques and resources to help you do this effectively. No matter what the education purpose, this step is invaluable to creating the impact you hope for. But in the case of working to change behavior, it is an absolute necessity.
As we’ve reminded in Step 4 and Step 5, human behavior is a highly complex activity with so many dimensions that it is easy to miss important elements as you decide what you want to do. Monitoring the impact of your actions, analyzing results, and adjusting your actions in response assure that you are more likely to reach your target in the long run.
In Step 5, you considered which behavior was more likely to be adopted by the target audience. We recommended eight principles to keep in mind when intervening to make change (Figure 3). These principles not only serve as a reminder of the complexity of the process of changing public behavior, but provide guidance for selecting, applying, and adjusting an outreach strategy to best fit the audience and purpose.
Figure 3. Principles to consider when trying to change behavior (Gardner &Stern, 1996)
- Use multiple intervention types to address factors limiting behavior – because limiting factors:
- Are numerous (technology, attitudes, knowledge, money, convenience, trust)
- Vary with actor and situation, and over time
- Affect each other (interactive principle)
- Understand the situation from the actor’s perspective
- When limiting factors are psychological, apply understanding of human choice processes
- Address conditions beyond the individual that constrain pro-environmental choice
- Set realistic expectations about outcomes
- Continually monitor responses and adjust programs accordingly
- Stay with the bounds of the actors’ tolerance for intervention
- Use participatory methods of decision making
Content for this section is identified on Water Outreach Web pages linked here, as well as:
Gardner, G. T., & Stern, P. C. 1996. Environmental problems and human behavior. Boston: Allyn and Bacon. p. 159.