The Community Diagnostics and Social Impact Toolkit: Development and Validation of a Reliable Measure
Keywords:community development, community capitals, community diagnostics, social impact
Although there are questions concerning the extent of the problems facing rural Americans, there is considerable evidence that many nonmetropolitan communities are facing a multitude of serious challenges. These issues do not exist as distinct and unrelated problems. For instance, one cannot focus exclusively on depopulation without also confronting economic decline and lack of employment opportunities, deteriorating social bonds, cultural atrophy, decaying infrastructure, and so on. Rural communities are systems in which each problem is linked, and managing these issues requires a holistic approach. Despite the need for robust diagnostic tools to support agricultural educators to work with communities there has been a notable gap in empirical tools to do so. The purpose of the study was to develop and validate an instrument to gauge community perceptions according to the Community Capitals Framework. The results of the study found the proposed instrument demonstrated content, response process, and internal structure validity based on a pilot of six counties in Georgia. Furthermore, the scale demonstrated initial consequential validity based on county level comparisons and statistically significant observed differences.