Scriptapedia/Trends Over Time

Context and purpose of the scriptEdit

This script is used to understand how key resources have changed over time and communities’ hopes and fears for the future



Primary nature of group taskEdit



  • Preparation time: 30 minutes
  • Time required during session: 135 minutes
  • Follow-up time: 30 minutes


  • Chart paper (for time lines)
  • List of prioritized resources
  • Print out of resource variable drawings
  • Beans / multicolor coins
  • Thick tip markers (multiple colors)


  • Tables of time lines
  • List of prioritized resources


  • Candidate resources as the basis for the dynamic model or the CLD
  • Trends over time for each resource with hopes and fears


  • Facilitators who know basic concepts of CBSD/SD with good group facilitation skills and knowledge of the local language and topic, and who are able to conceptualize the early seeds of system structure.
  • Modelers (can be volunteers from the groups, with no CBSD/SD experiences) who listens to what trends of change should be graphed and the way people are talking about the trends, and who is also be able to categorize hopes and fears.
  • Recorder to document the session and photograph the drawn graphs.
  • Runner (optional) to transfer graphs from group to group.


  1. The facilitator will explain that in the previous session they were interested in exploring which resources were important to the community, this session we are interested in understanding how those resources have changed over time.  
  2. The facilitator pulls out a list of prioritized resources written on a piece of chart paper and their corresponding simple picture. They will read out the resource name, and ask participants who joined the workshop the previous day to briefly explain the role of the resource in the community.
  3. The facilitator will then refer to the empty table on the ground. The table will have columns for minimum six time points, including the present and future.
    Empty Table of Trends over Time
  4. The facilitator will ask the question about the important incidences/events/things for the community/problem. For example, “What are the important events in the life of this village?”
  5. The discussion will yield 3 or so important events, which will be written with a description and an estimated year on the table. The second to last column will include today. The final column will refer to 10 years in the future. This column will be divided in half to capture hopes and fears for the future.
  6. The facilitator selects 5-7 resources from the prioritized list, one resource per blank table.  The facilitator will divide participants into two groups, one facilitator with each group. Divide the resources roughly in half.
  7. The facilitator explains to their group that we are interested in understanding how these resources have changed over time. They bring out a set of beans, plastic coins, or stones (if beans or coins are not available), and indicate that for each year we have a maximum of 10 beans available. We want to see how much of each resource existed at each year, and will demonstrate that for example if they think that in 1990 there was abundant forest, they put 9 of the 10 beans in the 1990 column.
  8. The facilitator will ask for a volunteer to lead their group in placing of beans for each resource. The group will negotiate the relative number of coins per year, keeping a maximum of 10 per column.
  9. When the group completes one resource table, optionally a new volunteer can lead the next discussion. After each column, the modeler will translate the points to a behavior over time graph, on which the dates have been placed on the bottom. At each point, the number of coins will correspond to a percentage on the graph (4 beans ~40%).
  10. At the completion of the exercise, the table will look something like this:
    Example of Completed Trends over Time
  11. The modeler presents the completed graphs one by one to the group.  They will trace with a finger, a stick, or a marker the trend over time, reflecting back the story of how resource changed over points in time. Alternatively, the modeler will recruit a volunteer to tell the story of the graph.
  12. The modeler will ask whether they reflected the story correctly – particularly when there is a large gap in time, or to test whether the future trend is realistic or not.
  13. Next Steps and Closing: (The Convener) ends the session. Explain when the team will return and what the activity will focus on. Identify which participants would like to join session 3 for an in depth discussion of how resources are connected. The selected small group should be no larger than 10. Thank participants, take photos of the table and graphs, and leave.
  14. Debriefing: The facilitation team discusses how the process went. Draw the trend lines created using beans as graphs on chart paper with markers. Review the trends over time graphs and discuss which resources should form the basis for the next session’s CLD. Decide on a relevant example to explain polarity.

Evaluation CriteriaEdit

  • Participants are able to identify key resources in a community.
  • Participants have shared both their hopes and fears for each resources over time.
  • Participants have better understanding about dynamics of problems and resources over times.
  • A preliminary group of variables of CLD has emerged that reflects the key resources.


Ellis Ballard