Approved by Faculty Senate October 6, 2003

University Studies Flagged Course Proposal

1. Department or Program:  Political Science and Public Administration

2. Course Number: 280

3. Semester Hours: 3

4. Frequency of Offering:  Every year

5. Course Title: Political Research I - Secondary

6. Catalog Description: An introduction to political research. Topics covered include, approaches and methods used in political research, framing research questions, developing and testing hypotheses, evaluating research, defining concepts, measuring variables, making observations, analyzing data, and presenting research findings. It is recommended that students complete this course before enrolling in other 300 or 400 level courses. Offered every year. Prerequisite: POLS 120 or instructor’s permission.

 

7. This is an existing course previously approved by A2C2:  Yes

 

8. This is a new course proposal:  No

 

9. University Studies Requirement this course would satisfy:  Critical Analysis Flag

 

10. Department Contact Person for this course:             Gaspare M. Genna

                        457-5379

                        ggenna@winona.edu

 

11. General Course Outcomes:  This course will introduce students to what political scientists do, namely rigorous research using the scientific method. The first step is to understand this method of understanding the world around us and differentiate it from polemic or rhetorical discourse, which is often confused as political science by laypeople. The course will be broken down into various parts so that students can understand the processes of developing a research agenda from basic questions, understanding where that idea fits among the discipline’s various theoretical approaches, construction of falsifiable hypotheses, operationalization of variables, data gathering, development of a research design, assessing results, drawing conclusions, and furthering knowledge. Along the way we will learn the difference between qualitative and quantitative research including the pluses and minuses of both.

 

12. University Studies Course Outcomes

a) Evaluate the validity and reliability of information

 

This will be assessed in the exams, take-home assignments, and final paper. The essay questions on the exams will assess this outcome by requiring students to address the research principles found in political science. Such principles require that data sources be properly cited, that results are presented in manner that lends to replication, and that data be made available for purposes of replication. The take home assignments will include exercises that will show students that peer reviewed work follows this criteria and that polemic works often do not. The final paper will also be assessed on the writers’ ability to incorporate these principles in their work.

 

b) Analyze modes of thought, expressive works, arguments, explanations, or theories

 

This will be assessed in the exams, take-home assignments, and final paper. The exams will include questions that address the need for a literature review as a preparation for research and not a substitute for it. They will need to convey their knowledge of the proper and improper methods in analyzing previous work, which includes the methods of critiquing and building upon prior theories. The take-home assignments will also include exercises involving library and internet research methods and in writing an annotated bibliography. The final paper will require a literature review that demonstrates the lessons related in lecture and reinforced in the take-home assignments.

 

c) Recognize possible inadequacies or biases in the evidence given to support arguments or conclusions

 

This will be assessed in the final exam, take-home assignments, and final paper. The final exam will include an essay question asking students to pick out the biases associated with an improperly controlled analysis, operationalization of variables that biases the results to support the hypotheses (Type I errors), sampling biases, etc., from a short research design. The take-home assignments will include development of research designs that consciously guard against these types of biases. The final paper will be partially evaluated based upon these criteria.

 

d) Advance and support claims

 

This will be assessed in the take-home assignments and final paper. The take-home assignments will include exercises that develop falsifiable hypotheses using a review of theories. At a latter stage (another assignment), hypotheses will need to be tested and results evaluated. The testing of these hypotheses will produce results that will either support or not support claims. Knowing how to evaluate the results so as to convince the reader that the claims have support will be one of the key assessment tools of the final paper.

 

 

 

 

WINONA STATE UNIVERSITY

POLITICAL RESEARCH I-SECONDARY

Political Science 280

Semester Year

 

Professor

Gaspare M. Genna, Ph. D.

Lecture Times:  XXXX

Office:   Minné 138

Hours:   XXXX

Phone:   457-5379

E-mail:  ggenna@winona.edu

 

Catalog Description

An introduction to political research. Topics covered include, approaches and methods used in political research, framing research questions, developing and testing hypotheses, evaluating research, defining concepts, measuring variables, making observations, analyzing data, and presenting research findings. It is recommended that students complete this course before enrolling in other 300 or 400 level courses. Offered every year. Prerequisite: POLS 120 or instructor’s permission.

 

Course Content

This course will introduce students to what political scientists do, namely rigorous research using the scientific method (CA A-D). The first step is to understand this method of understanding the world around us and differentiate it from polemic or rhetorical discourse, which is often confused as political science by laypeople (CA A-D). The course will be broken down into various parts so that students can understand the processes of developing a research agenda from basic questions (CA A-D), understanding where that idea fits among the discipline’s various theoretical approaches (CA B), construction of falsifiable hypotheses (CA B), operationalization of variables (CA B & D), data gathering (CA A & C), development of a research design (CA A-D), assessing results (CA C & D), drawing conclusions (CA D), and furthering knowledge (CA D). Along the way we will learn the difference between qualitative and quantitative research including the pluses and minuses of both (CA A-D).

 

University Studies Course Designation

 

This course has a University Studies Critical Analysis designation. As stated in the University Studies Program and Policies, “Critical Analysis courses in the University Studies program are devoted to teaching critical thinking or analytic problem-solving skills. These skills include the ability to identify sound arguments and distinguish them from fallacious ones. The objective of these courses is to develop students’ abilities to effectively use the process of critical analysis. Disciplinary examples should be selected to support the development of critical analysis skills.”

 


This course includes requirements and activities that fulfill the following University Studies guidelines:

 

a) Evaluate the validity and reliability of information

b) Analyze modes of thought, expressive works, arguments, explanations, or theories

c) Recognize possible inadequacies or biases in the evidence given to support arguments or conclusions

d) Advance and support claims

 

To accomplish these objectives, students will submit take-home assignments that will help assess their individual alignments with these guidelines. These guidelines will be assessed again in a holistic fashion with the final paper. More detail can be found in the sections that outline these assignments. (Italicized letters through-out the syllabus help designate where these occur)

 

Course Text and Statistical Application Package

Carlson, James M. and Mark S. Hyde. 2003. Doing Empirical Political Research. Boston, MA:  Houghton Mifflin Company. ISBN 0-618-11672-9

 

Other required reading assignments are found on reserve in the library.

 

This course will utilize computer based instruction especially in the statistical analysis portion. All students will be required to bring their laptops to class during sessions announced in class and/or designated in the course schedule included in the syllabus. In order to satisfy the requirements of the statistical analysis portion of the course, students must have a statistical application package known as SPSS-Windows. This program will not be included as part of the standard set of software applications found on your laptop. You can, however, go to the Technical Support Center (Somsen 207) to download free of charge.

 

Course Obligations

There is a mix of obligations students must meet to fulfill the requirements of the course. This includes 1) Class participation (CA A-D) 2) Take-home assignments (CA A-D) 3) Midterm and final exams (CA A-D) and 4) Final paper (CA A-D).

 

All assignments that are completed outside the classroom are to be typed using the following format: 

1)      double spaced,

2)      new times roman font (12 point),

3)      1.25 inch margins,

4)      title page (title, course, name, and date),

5)      page numbers (page one is the first page of text),

6)      stapled with no plastic cover of any type, and

7)      citations (footnotes or endnotes) and a bibliography when necessary.

 


Assignments will be accepted no later than two weeks after they are due. Students cannot receive full credit on late assignments. Being one week late will result in obtaining 80% of the possible points earned and two weeks late will result in obtaining 70% of the possible points earned.

 

The Academic Integrity Policy (pages 28-29 of the University Catalog) will be in full force in this course. Any violations of the policy will result in a failing grade for the assignment or exam and a possible failing grade in the course. If you do not understand of the meaning of the word “plagiarism,” please see me or someone at the Academic Skills Center.

 

Class Discussion of Reading Assignments:

The principal reading obligation is to keep up with the assigned chapters within the course study outline contained in this syllabus. To maximize the learning experience, the reading should be done before the beginning of class. Questions will be frequently asked during lectures by both students and the professor. It is up to all participants to be ready to answer these questions. Class attendance is required and participation will be evaluated on its contribution to the learning process (CA A-D).

 

Take-home Assignments

There are ten (10) take-home assignments. Each assignment is unique and assesses students’ working knowledge of the course material (CA A-D). Each assignment will be given at the conclusion of an important step of the course, with ample time for its completion. It would be wise for students to view each of these take-homes as the important steps towards writing a research paper that is acceptable in political science. By viewing each assignment as such, students can optimize their time in completing their final paper.

 

Final Paper

The final paper will be the culmination of students’ work in class (CA A-D). I will evaluate the papers’ important parts: central hypotheses (CA A), literature review (CA A & B), data description and research design (CA A & C), data analysis (CA C & D), discussion and conclusions (CA A, C, & D). These parts comprise the polished efforts of students’ take-home assignments. The topic of the paper will be completely up to the student. I will provide the necessary guidance throughout the analytical process.

 

Exams

There are two exams for the course (a midterm and a final), both of which are closed book and are in an essay format. The midterm will assess students’ knowledge of the topics we will review in the beginning of the course (CA A-D). The final is comprehensive and will require you to answer two essay questions (CA A-D). The professor will provide a list of possible questions one week before the final. However, he will choose which question will be answered by the students. The midterm will be given on XX and the final is on XX.

 


Grade Weights

Each assignment and examination will be given a score out of a total 100 points and will be given the following weights in determining students' final grades for the course:

 

Course Requirement

Due

Weight

10 Take-home assignments

(CA A-D)

Various

50% total

(5% each)

Final Paper

(CA A-D)

XX

15%

Midterm Exam

(CA A-C)

XX

10%

Final Exam

(CA A-C)

XX

15%

Class Participation

(CA A-D)

All Meetings

10%

 

********************

All assignments and exams must be completed in order to pass the course. I cannot pass someone that has not completed the obligations of this course.

********************

 

Outline of Lecture Topics

 

I.    Orientation and Introduction (CA A)

      A. Asking Questions

      B. Logic and Objectivity

      C. Ideology versus Facts

      D. Bar and Coffeehouse Talk

 

II.   The Scientific Method (CA A-D)

      A. The Science of Political Analysis

      B. Stages of Research

            i. Did Newton have an apple?

            ii. Rome was not built in a day

      C. Looking at the Past

 

III. Research Preparation (CA A & B)

      A. From Topics to Questions

      B. Concepts, Theories, Hypotheses, and Variables

      C. Knowing What is Known

            i. Literature Reviews

            ii. Annotated Bibliographies

      D. Constructing Falsifiable Hypotheses

      E. Research Design

      F. Operationalization of Variables

 


IV. Collecting Data (CA C)

      A. Sources of Information

      B. Sampling

      C. Surveys

      D. Qualitative and Quantitative approaches

            i. Small N Problems

            ii. Large N Problems

 

V. Data Analysis (CA C & D)

      A. Principles of Statistics

      B. Descriptive Statistics

      C. Bivariate Relationships

      D. Multivariate Relationships

      E. Statistical Significance

 

VI. Putting the Parts Together (CA A-D)

      A. Communicating Results

      B. Parts of a Paper

      C. Visual Aids

            i. Tables

            ii. Graphs

      D. It’s Not Over

 

Readings

Full detailed readings and lectures are described in this section. This will also include critical questions for each lecture. Important dates for course obligations are also included. (CA A-D)