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Institute of Government

Tennessee State University


Fall 2003


Course Number:                     PA 714


Title:                                       Research Methods For Public Administrators


Course Credit:                        Three Credits


Instructor:                              Rodney E. Stanley, Ph.D.

Office: Avon Williams Campus, Suite F-13

Email: or


Phone: (615) 963 – 7249: W

                                                            (615) 886 – 4542: H

Office Hours:  Tuesday 12:00 – 5:00

                        Thursday 12:00 – 5:00


Course Description:            This course is structured in survey format in order to inform the public administration student about research methods in public administration.  The prerequisite class for this course is PA 614 or the equivalent thereof.


Course Objectives:            At the end of this course the student will be able to:


1) Establish a theoretical foundation for conducted scientific research in public administration.


2) Bring to the attention of the student current and future trends that are emerging in research methods in an effort to assist in preparing the student for trends and research in public and non-profit organizations.


3) Students should be able to demonstrate mastery of various research methods that will allow them to properly conduct research in public administration.


Topical Outline:            The topics that will be discussed throughout the semester  will include, but not limited too, research design construction, theory development, approaches to research design techniques (both qualitative and quantitative), and other topics necessary for applying and understanding research methods and  techniques in public affairs.



Teaching Strategies:            Lectures, class discussion, individual written and oral projects, weekly assignments, & exams


Required Text:


Babbie, Earl.  2001.  The Practice of Social Research, 9th edition.  CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Publishing.  ISBN: 0-534-57474-2.


Hoover, Kenneth R & Todd Donovan.  2001.  The Elements of Social Scientific Thinking, 7th ed.  New York:  St. Martin’s Press.  ISBN: 0-312-20862-6.


Kuhn,Thomas S. 1996.  The Structure of Scientific Revolution, 3rd ed.  Chicago:  The University of Chicago Press.  ISBN: 0-226-45808-3.


Klemke, E.D., Robert Hillinger, A. David Kline.  1988.  Introductory Readings In The Philosophy of Science. New York: Prometheus Books.  ISBN: 0879754230.


Thiele, Leslie P.  2003.  Thinking Politics: Perspectives In Ancient, Modern and Postmodern Political Theory.  New York: Chatham House Publishers.  ISBN: 1-889119-51-2.


White, Jay D., Guy B. Adams.  1994.  Research In Public Administration: Reflections on Theory and Practice.  Thousand Oaks: Sage Publication. ISBN: 0-8039-5683-5.


Yin, Robert K. 1994.  Case Study Research Design and Methods.  Thousand Oaks: Sage Publication. ISBN: 0-8039-5663-0.


Course Requirements:


            Midterm Exam                                                                        100 points

            Final Exam                                                                            100 points

            Class Project (Conference Paper & Presentation)                200 points

            Chapter Presentations            (2 @ 50 points)                                 100 points

Total                                                                                       500 points


Grading Scale:              Final Grades will be premised on cumulative points as follows: A = 500- 450; B = 449 - 390; C = 389 - 300; D = 299 - 220; F = below 220.


Individual Project Grading Scale:  A = 100 – 90; B = 89 – 80; C = 79 – 70; D = 69 – 60; F = below 60.


Exams:                        Each student will be required to complete a midterm and final exam.  A midterm exam will be given during the designated midterm exam week and will be administered in class.  The final exam will also be in class and the student will have one class period to complete the exam.  It will resemble a focused question on a preliminary exam for completion of the Ph.D. Each exam will consist of questions about important topics discussed throughout the semester. 


Conference Paper:    Each student will be required to write the equivalent of a conference paper as their class project.  The conference paper will be in the form of a research design, similar to those presented by ABD students as dissertation proposals.  The purpose of this exercise is to equip the student with the necessary skills for conducting possible research and presenting that research at professional conferences in the social sciences.  Papers and presentations will be due at the end of the semester (date has not yet been determined).


Content of Conference Papers:


Minimum Requirements

·        At least 20 - 25 pages in length, not counting the title page but no more than 25 pages.


Notes for the Ph.D. student to remember:

·        All sections in the paper should begin with an introductory paragraph that discusses what issues will be addressed in each section of the paper.

·        The use of active voice in writing papers at the Ph.D. level of study is encouraged because it separates the doctoral student from the master and undergraduate student in writing style.  Furthermore, it demonstrates to the instructor that the student has a skillful understanding of the English language.  Plus, it makes your writing much more interesting to read!


Grading Criteria for Papers:

1)      Analysis: A sufficient number of public policy implementation concepts are used to analyze the situation discussed in the paper;

2)      References: A variety of pertinent and timely references were sought and obtained in preparing the paper;

3)      Organization: The main points are stated clearly and arranged in a logical sequence;

4)      Coherence: The development of ideas, arguments and discussion shows consistency and logical connection;

5)      Clarity: The ideas, arguments and discussion shows consistency and logical connection;

6)      Conciseness: The language is direct and to the point, using sufficient space to say exactly what is intended and be readily understood by the reader;

7)      Grammar: The written is in standard American English, with proper sentence structure, syntax, punctuation and spelling;

8)      Drafting: The writing shows evidence of being drafted and revised before submission of the final copy.

9)      Following Directions: Identifying and addressing all components of the project the instructor outlines.

10)  Timeliness: Simply turning the project in on the specified date given by the instructor.


Class Presentations:

Each student will be required to assist in the presentation of the reading material at least once, and maybe twice in the semester (depending on the size of the class).  Groups of two to four individuals will be assigned to present the basic arguments of the literature assigned for that week and facilitate discussions regarding the literature.  Your presentations will be critiqued on how thorough you present the material, how well you project to the class, the amount of class discussion that results from your presentation (in other words try to be controversial it makes for better discussions), and the amount of time you use in your presentations (please try not to exceed 30 minutes in your presentations).  The class usually finds it helpful if you distribute an outline of your material before you begin your presentation, however this is not required.


1)      Organization – There is a structured format in which the student displays throughout the presentation.

2)      Planning – There is evidence of rehearsing and the presentation flows well and is properly paced according to time.

3)      Visual Aids – Adequate use of visual aids to assist in explanations during the presentation.

4)      Speaker Enthusiasm – Displayed adequate knowledge of the subject, and exhibited sufficient self-confidence during the presentation.

5)      Voice Projection – Good articulation, proper delivery rate, no distracting gestures (e.g., chewing gum, too many “uhs”, etc).



Students are expected to be present in order to participate in class discussions.  For every absence the instructor will deduct 10 points from the students participation and attendance grade. Excessive absences will lead to a substantial lowering of a student’s grade. General criteria used to assess class participation include:


1)      Content Mastery: Students must display an understanding of facts, concepts, and theories presented in the assigned readings and lectures.  This ability is the basis for all higher-level skills and must be made evident by classroom comments and/or response to questions.

2)      Communication Skills: Students must be able to inform others in an intelligent manner what she/he knows.  Ideas must be communicated clearly and persuasively.  Communication skills include listening to others and understanding what they have said, responding appropriately, asking questions in a clear manner, avoiding rambling discourses or class domination, using proper vocabulary pertinent to the discussion, building on the ideas of others, etc.

3)      Synthesis/Integration: Students must illuminate the connections between the material under consideration and other bodies of knowledge.  For example, one could take several ideas from the reading or class discussions and combine them to produce a new perspective on an issue, or one could take outside materials and combine them to create new insights.  Students who probe the interdisciplinary roots of the theories presented or who are able to view the author or the materials from several viewpoints demonstrate this skill.

4)      Creativity: Students must demonstrate that they have mastered the basic material and have gone on to produce their own insights.  A simple repetition of ideas from the articles will not suffice, nor will simply commenting on what others have said.  Students must go beyond the obvious by bringing their own beliefs and imagination to bear.  Creativity may be displayed by showing further implications of the material, by applying it to a new field, or by finding new ways of articulating the materials, which produce significant insights.

5)      Valuing: Students should be able to identify the value inherent in the material studied.  The underlying assumptions of the author should be identified.  Furthermore, students should be able to articulate their own positions by reference to basic underlying values.  Students must not simply feel something is wrong or incorrect; they must be able to state why, based on some hierarchy of values.  In either accepting or rejecting a position, the operative values must become explicit.

6)      General Enthusiasm and Interest in the Class: This can be shown by regularity of attendance and thoughtful insights given throughout the semester in class discussions.


*** All papers (including organization design paper) should use the following format: Times New Roman, 12 point font, 1” margins from left to right and top to bottom, and double spaced.  Paginate all papers you submit to me for a grade.  Late projects will automatically be reduced one letter grade for each day they are late not each class period.


Note: Following explicit directions are an important aspect of graduate school training.  Therefore, it is important that the student follow the stated guidelines in this syllabus, throughout the course of this class, because failure to do so will result in point reductions. 


Accommodations for Students with Disabilities: Any students who feel the need for academic accommodations due to a recognized disability by the TSU Handbook, will be given such adjustments only after the student goes through the proper channels at the university to receive such accommodations.  The TSU Handbook is a good place to start if you are unaware of the “proper procedures.”


*** Note this syllabus is subject to change at the discretion of the instructor.












Presentation Evaluation Forms


50            Superior, outstanding                            25            Not quite what was expected

45        Very Good                                       20            Less than expected

40        Much Better Than Expected                      15            Much less than expected

35        Better Than Expected                         10            Considerably less than expected

30        What was expected                           5            Pure charity


Name: ________________________________________________________________


Topic: _____________________________________________________________________________


 Factor                                     Strong                                                 Weak


                                                            Comments:                                           Comments:


1) Organization (10)                              _______________________________________


2) Planning (10)                              _______________________________________


3) Visual Aids            (10)                              _______________________________________


4) Speaker Enthusiasm (10)                  _______________________________________


5) Voice Projection (10)             _______________________________________



Overall Grade: _____________ (50/Perfect Score)






Grading Criteria for Conference Papers


100            Superior, outstanding                            50            Not quite what was expected

90        Very Good                                       40            Less than expected

80        Much Better Than Expected                      30            Much less than expected

70        Better Than Expected                         20            Considerably less than expected

60        What was expected                           10            Pure charity


Name: ________________________________________________________________


Title: _____________________________________________________________________________




1) Analysis: (10)                              _______________________________________


2) References: (10)                              _______________________________________


3) Organization: (10)                              _______________________________________


4) Coherence: (10)                              _______________________________________


5) Clarity: (10)                                    _______________________________________


6) Conciseness: (10)                              _______________________________________


7) Grammar: (10)                              _______________________________________


8) Drafting: (10)                              _______________________________________


9) Following Directions: (10)                  _______________________________________


10) Timeliness: (10)                              _______________________________________


Overall Grade: _____________ (100/Perfect Score)









Course Outline

Class One:


Class Requirements

Note: During the 1st week in October I will be at SECOPA, so we will loose one week of class.


Class Two:

Kuhn, Structure of Scientific Revolution


Class Three:

Readings In Philosophy of Science


Class Four:

Babbie Chapters 1 – 5


Class Five:

Hoover, The Elements of Social Scientific Thinking


Class Six:

Thiele, Thinking Politics Chapters 1 - 4 


Class Seven:

Thiele, Thinking Politics Chapters 5 - 11


Class Eight:

Midterm Exam


Class Nine:

Yin, Case Study Research Design and Methods


Class Ten:

Babbie Chapters 6 - 10


Class Eleven:

Babbie Chapters 11 – 15 (16 & 17 if time allows)


Class Twelve:

White & Adams Chapters 1 - 8


Class Thirteen:

White & Adams Chapters 9 – 15


Class Fourteen:



Class Fifteen:



Class Sixteen:

Final Exam