11.233 | Fall 2007 | Graduate

Research Design for Policy Analysis and Planning


The main assignment for this course is a research proposal. While you may write a proposal of your choosing, it is expected that students enrolled in the DUSP PhD program will write a proposal for their first-year paper. The additional assignments are designed to hone your skills and facilitate work on your proposal. As described below, there are two types of assignments, those for credit-no credit (CNC) and those that will receive a letter grade (LG). All assignments should be submitted in 12 point Times Roman font, 8.5 x 11 paper, 1 inch margins all around.

Credit-No Credit Assignments (CNC)

Most of these assignments will be used to facilitate discussion. Therefore, you should bring a copy of your completed assignment to class and be prepared to share your work with your classmates. The assignments will be collected at the end of the class session. You will receive full credit if it is clear that you put effort into the assignment, drawing on the readings and discussions to develop your ideas and research instruments. You will receive no credit if you do not complete the assignment or your work is deemed unsatisfactory. Note that you must meet with your advisor before turning in CNC II in Ses #4. You ought to schedule this meeting with your advisor such that you can turn the assignment in on time.

CNC I, due Session 3

Try your hand at writing your research question. Start by writing no more than five sentences about the problem or puzzle that underlies your interest. Then conclude by stating a single, well-phrased, research question. For this assignment you should draw on information from the readings about what makes a good question.

CNC II, due Session 4

Write a short description (no longer than one page, single-spaced) of: 1) the problem that is driving your research; 2) a clearly articulated research question(s); 3) the body of literature you envision your work will be situated in; and 4) your preliminary ideas about how you will collect data. You are required to submit this to your advisor and to meet with your advisor in advance of submitting the assignment. Based on your discussion you should then revise your work. Submit your revised statement as well as the original submission you made to your advisor. Somewhere in the revised document, indicate the name of your advisor and the date when you met.

CNC III, due Session 5

Revisit your research question and rewrite it to reflect your current thinking. Once you have settled on what you believe is a well-phrased question, write at least three hypotheses. Then identify the dependent variable and the independent variables for each hypothesis. For each variable, suggest one or two ways that it could be operationalized and one or two measurements. If the study you envision will not include hypotheses and variables and measurement, you should note this in your assignment. Since the goal is for you to test out these fundamentals of research design, you should adapt your question so that it enables you to complete the assignment.

CNC IV, due Session 7

Complete the COUHES exam. Read all of the on-line materials associated with the exam. Bring a copy of your certificate of completion to class.

Letter Grade Assignments (LG)

Graded assignments will ask you to apply the concepts discussed in the course to your research interests. They will also give you an opportunity to experiment with creating different research instruments. The purpose of applying these assignments to your research topics is to keep you thinking about and honing them. You are not expected to use all the research methods discussed in class in your final proposals.

LG I, due Session 6

Write a short paper — no more than two (2) pages double-spaced — that states the epistemological perspective that you believe best suits your vision and approach to inquiry. Then, discuss why other epistemological perspectives do not seem appropriate to your way of thinking, knowing, and understanding. You should draw on the readings and use them as a basis for your discussion and analysis.

LG II, due Session 8

Develop a survey or structured-interview instrument that is no longer than three (3) pages. You should include a variety of different question formats to demonstrate your knowledge of the range of question types. Be sure to include a sentence at the top that clearly states your research question, followed by two or three sentences describing what you want to accomplish with the instrument. The instrument should be related to your first-year paper / paper topic.

LG III, due Session 9

Develop a conversational or semi-structured interview guide. This should be no longer than one (1) page. Be sure to include a sentence at the top that clearly states your research question, followed by another sentence or two summarizing what you want to accomplish with the instrument and the approach you are taking. Your questions should illustrate that you understand the intent of open-ended questions and that you grasp the intent of follow-up, probing questions. The instrument should be related to your first-year paper / paper topic.

LG IV, due Session 10

Submit a draft that will serve as the foundation for your final proposal. In one paragraph, state your research question and the body of theory where you expect to situate your research. In the remainder of the space allocated, elaborate on the elements of research design discussed in class. This should include discussion of your unit and level of analysis, summary of key variables, issues of measurement, validity, and reliability (as well as threats to validity and reliability), and the rationale for your case selection. It also should include a summary of the data collection and analysis approach you envision using. It is expected that you will submit a draft of this assignment to your advisor, that you will have a meeting to discuss your ideas and progress, and that you will make revisions prior to making your class submission. At the top or end of the document, indicate the name of your advisor and the date when you are scheduled to meet. The assignment can be up to five (5) pages in length, double-spaced.

LG V (Final Proposal), due Session 12

The final submission may be up to twelve (12) double-spaced pages of text. This length is exclusive of references and instruments. You should follow the format of a standard research proposal as discussed in class. You also are required to include an Appendix of up to one (1) page in length that states when you met with your advisor and what changes you made to your proposal as a result of this meeting.

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2007
Learning Resource Types
Written Assignments