Abstract for:Understanding the Dynamics of Community Participation in Group Model Building

Group model building is one approach that has potential to the answer the current call for more community participation in applied social and health sciences research. The theoretical development of GMB has trailed behind the development of its practice, and to improve practice in these contexts, more effort must be made understand how participation and model-based learning occurs. This study used system dynamics modeling to support the construction a theory of participation in GMB, grounded in the perspectives of key informants with experience using GMB, and found that while key informants had different conceptualizations of participation, they identified four common constructs whose interactions influenced community participation in GMB projects. Simulation results of a model that reflected the feedback loops linking these core constructs reproduced several of the patterns of behavior of indicators related to participation that key informants had observed in GMB projects and that both deep shared insights and high levels of community participation can be achieved over time.