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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Nives Dolsak
BPOLST 503
Bothell Campus

Policy Analysis

Focuses on methods and approaches used in policy analysis and program evaluation. Examines and applies interdisciplinary approached and methods for evaluating policy impacts and outcomes, including cost-benefit analysis, randomized field experiments, quasi-experimental assessment, and participatory assessment. Examines

Class description

Public sector across levels of governance is under increasing pressure to provide better services with fewer resources. Policy analysts and public managers, therefore, need to be able to prioritize what services will be offered and evaluate whether the programs designed to provide such services have been effective and efficient. This course focuses on methods and approaches used in policy analysis and program evaluation. We will examine and apply most commonly used interdisciplinary approaches and methods for evaluating policy impacts and outcomes, including, but not limited to cost-benefit analysis, randomized field experiments, quasi-experimental assessment, and participatory assessment. In addition, we will examine the role of policy analysis and program evaluation in democratic governance.

Student learning goals

Learn and apply skills required for designing, conducting, and communicating policy analysis and program evaluation.

Students will develop expertise in real-world problem solving through their case study.

Students will learn oral and written communication techniques employed in the field of policy analysis.

Through hands-on exercises, students learn how to use Excel and SPSS software as applicable in this field.

Through learning about the role of policy analysis in a democratic policy dialogue, students will be better equipped to get engaged in democratic policy decision making.

General method of instruction

I believe that formal education should equip students with conceptual tools as well as train them to apply these tools to practical issues. My lectures focus on theoretical and conceptual issues as well as on their policy implications. I use cases to illustrate theoretical issues and application of analytical tools. Rather than passively studying the presented material, my students take an active role in the learning process. They engage in individual (self-selected) and group policy analysis projects on topics close to their interests. Through 5 shorter practice assignments, students practice the analytical tools we learn in this course. The final project in this course is a policy analysis proposal. Students present a draft to the class and receive feedback from the instructor and peers. Students are able to incorporate this feedback to strengthen their final analysis proposal.

Recommended preparation

While this course has no formal prerequisites, prior knowledge of basic statistics (including, but not limited to analysis of variance) and precalculus (exponential functions) will be advantageous. Similarly, familiarity with Excel and SPSS will be helpful. Students without the above background are encouraged to use services available through the Quantitative Skills Center at UWB.

Class assignments and grading

Students complete a number of shorter lab assignments to practice analytical tools. In groups, students analyze and present to the class a professional policy analysis report or journal article in a policy area they select. Throughout the quarter, students develop a policy analysis/program evaluation proposal in a policy area of their choice.

On-line Assignment 1: U.S. Poverty Policy: The Role of the Government (max 10 points), On-line Assignment 2: Collecting Policy Analysis Information (max 15 points) On-line Assignment 3: Projection Techniques (max 25 points) On-line Assignment 4: Distributional Weights (max 5 points) On-line Assignment 5: Cost-Benefit Analysis (max 10 points) On-line Assignment 6: MAPS Capstone Reviews (two reviews, each 10 points max) Academic/Professional Analysis Presentation (sing-up on Blackboard) (max 15 points) Policy Analysis/Program Evaluation Proposal (max 30 points) Policy Analysis/Program Evaluation Presentation (max 10 points)


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Additional Information
Last Update by Nives Dolsak
Date: 02/14/2012