Preparing Students for More Effective Community Interventions: Assets Assessment

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The traditional approach to community assessment identifies needs and problems within a community but fails to address the strengths and capacities that can serve as the foundation of community interventions. This article describes and assesses the impact of an effort to integrate the assets mapping model of community assessment into two public health classes that include a service learning component. Students entered the courses heavily biased toward the traditional “deficits” assessment approach, but by the end of the academic year, had begun to embrace the assets model. The importance of shifting professional training and practice from the traditional needs assessment approach to one that is more assets oriented is discussed.

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