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[ last updated February 4, 2020 ]

Research Strategies in Public Policy (Spring 2020)

Lecture: Tues., 6:05–8:35pm, James Hall 3613
Lab: Thurs., 6:05–8:05pm, West End Building 130
Instructor: Asher Wycoff • awycoff (at) gc (dot) cuny (dot) edu
Office Hours: Tuesday, 5:00–6:00pm • James Hall 3416

Course Overview and Objectives: How do you tell if a policy has achieved the desired effect? What explains public support for some policies and not others? What factors lead to different policy outcomes between countries? Reviewing research on these and related questions, this course will provide a foundation in methodological approaches to political science. Students will examine and apply conventional quantitative and qualitative tools, from logistic regression to coding interview data, through a combination of reading discussions and lab exercises. This course also covers brass-tacks skills like defining concepts, formulating research questions, and formatting bibliographies. The course culminates in a short-form literature review assignment, which gives students the opportunity to apply these research skills and familiarize themselves with a body of literature in which they are interested.

Texts: You do not need to purchase books for this course. All readings are available digitally, either on Blackboard or through the CUNY library system. If you have trouble accessing or obtaining the reading materials, please let me know as soon as possible.

Requirements: This course consists of a lecture section each Tuesday and a laboratory section each Thursday. The laboratory sessions will consist of team exercises in the first half of the semester and guided independent work in the second half. Lecture sessions will involve some direct lecture, but will also include seminar-style discussions on assigned texts. It is important that you come to Tuesday classes having read and prepared to discuss the assigned texts. Formal requirements are as follows:

Here's a breakdown of how the course is graded overall:

Course Requirement Points Possible
Participation10 points
Lab Exercises (eight)40 points (5 points each)
Reading Presentation10 points
Paper Proposal5 points
Literature Review Rough Draft15 points
Literature Review Final Draft20 points
Total    100 points possible

Since the course as a whole is graded out of 100 points, your raw score is also your percentage grade for the semester. I award letter grades according to the usual scale, so 93-100 points earn you an A; 90-92 points earn you an A-minus; 87-89 points earn you a B-plus; 83-86 points earn you a B; 80-82 points earn you a B-minus; etc.

Conduct Guidelines: Although I do not grade on attendance directly, students are still expected to attend class regularly having completed and prepared to discuss the required reading. As not just quantity but also quality of participation is important, I strongly recommend that you stay on topic during class discussions.

I do not permit cellphone use during class, and I also encourage you to avoid using other electronics whenever possible. While I conditionally permit laptops and tablets, I reserve the right to change my mind if they become too distracting. If you use a laptop or tablet in class, please only use it for purposes directly related to the course (consulting readings, note-taking, e.g.). You are encouraged to print out PDF readings for in-class use.

Academic Integrity: In written assignments (and this includes short answer questions on tests), it would be really great if you didn't plagiarize. Plagiarism is the act of presenting someone else's ideas or language as your own. The faculty and administration of Lehman College strive to foster an environment free of cheating and plagiarism. Each student is individually responsible for knowing what constitutes cheating and plagiarism and avoiding both. If you are unsure, the full text of the CUNY Academic Integrity Policy and the Brooklyn College procedure for its implementation can be found at brooklyn.cuny.edu/bc/policies. If a faculty member confirms a violation of academic integrity, and/or if the student admits the violation, the faculty member is contractually obligated to report the violation to administration. That's a headache for all involved, so please familiarize yourself with CUNY's policy on academic integrity and avoid violating it.

Accessibility: In order to receive disability-related academic accommodations students must first be registered with the Center for Student Disability Services (CSDS). Students with a documented disability, or who suspect they may have one, are encouraged to set up an appointment with the Director of Student Disability Services by calling (718) 951-5538. If you have already registered with the CSDS, please provide me with the appropriate documentation and discuss your specific needs with me, and I will do my best provide the necessary accommodations.


Course Schedule

Unit 1: Quantitative Methods

Unit 2: Qualitative Methods

Unit 3: Critical Perspectives on Social Science

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