public administration research model
create a public administration research model. Include model description, justification and value.
First major assignment
This assignment has two objectives – to give me an opportunity to see your formal writing, and to test your ability to construct a simple model. Before you have a full panic attack, several caveats… One, I know you feel like you are not “ready” to create a model, but you underestimate your ability. Two, you will get better only with practice, and I see this as precisely that… a practice. I am fully aware than in just a few weeks, you will be able to produce an even better product, but I want to see what you can do now, to help you move to that improved product. Third, the process I am going to suggest will have utility for future assignments, and introducing this approach now has many positive benefits. Now, onto the assignment…
Professor X (no, not the guy in the wheelchair hangin’ with the mutants) asks students to post a brief bio on Blackboard for each class, partly because of a silly and poorly designed policy to see if students REALLY mean it when they sign up for a class, but mostly so students can get to know each other. It gives students an opportunity to find possible shared professional interests and to engage in some “networking” for their career development. Over time, Professor X notes, in additional to personal information, professional matters, etc., postings include concerns about their upcoming class performance. An example would be a comment going beyond “look forward to getting to know all of you” to “I hope we can help each other get through this class” and similar comments expressing a lack of confidence in his/her ability to succeed in class. In some cases, the comments can almost represent a fear of the class and severe concern about likely outcomes in the class…before they have done anything in the class! (Replies from other students will appear not cautioning students about their negativity but expressing agreement about the concern and the need for help, so these are not isolated comments.) At first, he thought these just appeared occasionally, but looking across his classes, he believes it is something appearing on a regular basis among many students, but certainly not all students. He has also confirmed similar comments appearing in postings of other professors’ classes, but not all for all classes and professors.
Professor X is asking you to help him figure out why these comments might appear by producing a paper proposing a model to explain these observations. The paper should introduce the issues involved, summarize the observations, present and explain the proposed model, and offer rationales for the model’s ability to explain the observations. He finds it interesting that students decide to post such comments, wondering if this is the sign of a major problem or just a curiosity. In other words, he needs a model to explain why this happens so he can determine whether he needs to act and what that action (or actions) might be needed to change behaviors. He recognizes there is almost certainly not a single model to explain this, and it will not be possible to explain every observation he has made, but he believes you can create a model that explains many of these observations with a reasonable (and simple) model. He also notes that you may determine there are multiple explanations, so the model would describe the most important of these explanations and if/how they fit together, indicating overlap and under what conditions one theory (one path in the model) may take precedent over others. Naturally, as a student, you may have made your own observations about this, and you may find asking other students about their thinking will be helpful. Remember, we are not trying to explain why a particular student does this, but why we see it among groups of students, so a “model” just repeating what a particular student said is not likely to be very good. There should be a clearly stated model and not just a list of possible explanations without any differentiating. Most importantly, we also note some students do NOT do this, so our model needs to explain why some express these concerns while others do not. In other words, expressing concerns about the upcoming class is a variable taking on different values across students. Feel free to ask questions about the observations if you need clarification.
Thus, you want to create a simple model to describe how/why this happens, which might be of value to students/faculty needing to deal with this situation, not just this class. What Professor X hopes we will produce will be useful to others, and you should present your model in that fashion – present it helping the reader to understand concerns about why we see problems with confidence levels, but also note the model’s value in other contexts, if applicable. (You need not describe all of those, but an example or two is going to be a positive contribution.)
A word of warning…you can easily drift from the intended focus, worrying about other interesting aspects of training and student behavior, if you are not extremely diligent in editing your paper. Although these other things may be important and worthy of attention, they will divert your attention and cause you to spend less time on the intended target. Your focus needs to be on why we might see such a lack of confidence. Also, note that you may well have experiences where you see real confidence, but that does not negate the observation noted. Your model will need to account for why we can see such divergent situations. In other words, observing confidence in some situations does not eliminate the need to model how we can get little confidence – in fact, such a model may be crucial to creating more situations producing real confidence and fewer situations resulting in little confidence among students. Put even more directly, the model will explain why we see confidence and no confidence, and help us understand the factors influencing whether we see one or the other.
Technically, you have only a few rules. The model description, justification, and value discussions should be between one and two pages in length — if it is longer than that, it had better be a brilliant piece of work, so it shouldn’t be longer. (This teaches you brevity and focus…) Two, the paper should begin with a strong thesis statement, the model should be clearly indicated in the narrative, and the paper should be well –organized and professionally written, with actual paragraphs, syntax, and stuff. (Writing will count as much or more than my evaluation of your model.) Three, under NO circumstance should you submit a first draft as your final product. A draft is NOT a minor revision, but a complete restart. For this class (and all other classes), we should never see anything earlier than a second draft, and more likely a third or fourth. This does NOT mean, as one student interpreted it, you do not turn in the assignment because you produced only a single draft; it means you produce multiple drafts (perhaps for the first time!) and submit the ultimate product.
You are likely to have questions about this assignment; there will be a separate discussion forum for this assignment, where you are free to post questions, ask for guidance and input from other students, and reflect on the insights of other students.
• DO NOT focus on simple situations, such as when a professor announces the class will be impossible to complete satisfactorily – these are easily explained and therefore not very interesting from an administrative perspective. We want to understand how, to put it bluntly, good students can have such low confidence (and/or why they voice that lack of confidence publicly).
• We would like to create a more general model, but you are free to focus initially on a particular example of this situation as you describe how your model developed. By the end, however, you should have something that may have at least slightly broader applicability, or at least address related contexts.
• Feel free to diagram (and I will not grade you on the quality of your artwork if you draw it!) – treat that as a one-page appendix for your paper. If you are like me, create a diagram for your own purpose to help develop your thinking, but you need not submit it – I would be too embarrassed to show my “drawings” to others…
• It should be submitted to me through the Assignment mechanism in Blackboard in .doc, .docx, or .rtf format. DO NOT submit it through the forum or via e-mail. It is YOUR responsibility to get me papers I can open and read!
• I will have a special discussion forum for this assignment, and you should feel free to ask questions about the assignment.
• Most importantly, let me suggest a process for producing the paper that will help you with this and future assignments:
o Think, then wander away from the assignment
o Observe and ask people about their observations
o Think more and observe more
o Try thinking about how someone might actually work through these situations in their mind to understand their decision processes
o You might even try to ask people who demonstrate this behavior to help you understand how they create this situation
o Write down your initial thoughts, then go away for a while (a day or two)
o Come back and open a new file and try writing your thoughts again
o Go away for another day
o Now start again, trying to write out your model. As you finish this attempt, open the prior attempts and see if there is something you want to pull in from the previous attempts. Be prepared to bring NOTHING from these earlier efforts, as your latest thinking is that much better. Be pleased when you see how misdirected you were previously and how much better this is than the first attempts.
o Go away for another day.
o Clean up the model, trying to work through the process and see if you are both incorporating all of the natural steps you must go through to get this conclusion, and whether you are not explaining why this occurs with some obvious examples. Fix as necessary.
o Create a strong introduction to motivate the reader about the model and its purpose, with a strong thesis summarizing what we learn from this, grabbing the reader from the very beginning. End with a discussion about how the model fits your observations (and observations you collected from others) and the utility of the model for other contexts.
o Read it again and look for flow, completeness, and clarity. Heck, let’s even try for being interesting…
o Edit the paper like crazy, justifying every sentence, its location, its value to the discussion, and why it cannot be improved.
o Read the paper in its entirety, listening for awkward phrasing, poor paragraphing, unnecessary leaps, poor transitions, etc.
o Read it again and look for any remaining misspellings, punctuation or syntax issues, etc. If you have known problems (run-on sentences, passive voice, bad or non-existent topic sentences, other paragraphing issues, etc.), do a read through JUST for these and catch them before the grader sees them!
o Do not submit the paper until you have a clean read-through without any changes and you feel this represents the best you can produce at this time.
? Now, when I grade the paper, I know what I have (your best effort), so the feedback I give you either helps you address problems you would not catch otherwise, or even better, I can now help you produce something even stronger than your best effort – this is how we create improvement!
? The worthless outcome is for me to tell you about problems you know you left in the paper, so you learn nothing about how to improve upon that work, and I waste time stating the obvious.
o Yes, I’ve just given you a model of the writing process, and you probably see in each step how that element reflects a theory about how we write and why doing it in the suggested fashion will eliminate/reduce a potential problem. Are models cool and useful or what?
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