Human Services Technology by Dick Schoech, Published by Haworth Press

Chapter 8: Assessing Human Service Information Needs

Web sites Additional review & discussion questions Exercises Additional readings

Web Sites relevant to sections of this chapter

Organizational influences Human service influences Implications
Site Relevance

Section 1:  Organizational influences



Section 2: Influences of human service processes and decision making on information needs



Section 3: Implications of information needs on IT design and development


Additional Review and Discussion Questions

  1. none


Exercise 1: Interview on Human Service Information Needs

            This assignment examines human service information needs.  Identify someone you feel is a competent, experienced human service practitioner.  You will probably want to choose someone from your area of specialty, for example, mental health direct service, administration, or policy/planning.  Interview that person and obtain their input on the following questions.  Do not limit yourself to the following questions, but use them to help focus the interview.  Be prepared to make an oral report on the interview in class after providing identifying information, such as agency, position, and type of work.

  1. What are the most important types of information you use in your work?

  2. What is the major source of information you use in your work?

  3. How reliable is the information you use in your work?  Estimate the percent of times it is in error.

  4. Estimate what percentage of all the decisions you make is based on information that you have seen, heard, or read.  What percentage is based on no information?

  5. In making a typical decision, what part does information play and what part do other factors such as intuition play? Identify some other factors.

  6. If in your current position you were accountable to no one but yourself, what information would you collect? What information that is currently collected would you not collect?

  7. If it were possible to have immediate access to any information you wanted for your job, what information would you request? Identify types of information and how it would be used.

  8. How responsible are you for the information you help collect, for example, if that information is later used in ways that were not beneficial to the client.  How is the protection of client confidentiality and privacy of client information forwarded outside your agency, for example, to regional, state, or national offices?

Exercise 2: Analyzing a Decision and the Information Needed to Make the Decision

            Consider the agency, Community Counseling, Inc., described in Exercise 3 of Chapter 7.  Select one administrative and one direct service staff and define a decision that each makes.  Plot the characteristics of each decision on the scales in Figure 8.2.  Use a typical rather than an ideal situation. 

Exercise 3:  Novice vs. Expert's ability to explain their decision making

Interview two human service workers who have the same job that involves making complex decisions about clients, for example, a child abuse investigator or a family therapist.  Select one workers who has been on the job for approximately 1 month.  Select the other worker who has been on the job over four years.  Have each describe the processes they use to make several of the most complex decisions in their job.  Compare how well the novice and expert explain how they make the same decision.  Which explanation is easier to understand.  Which would be more useful for IT developers. 

Additional Reading

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