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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Maureen A. Pirog
PPM 599
Seattle Campus

Topics in Public Policy and Management

Examines various research topics of importance in public policy and management.

Class description

**TITLE: Program Evaluation and Social Experimentation** Public program evaluation and social experimentation are forms of research that are used to assess the impacts of public policies, laws, programs and managerial innovations. The course begins with an overview of research methods, comprising design, measurement and data collection. We examine a range of program evaluation and social experimentation activities, many of them falling under the general rubric of good management practices. The course will concentrate in particular on “impact assessment.” We will examine why social experimentation with randomized assignment of subjects to treatments is viewed as the “gold standard” in evaluation and compare such research to various quasi-experimental designs. Studies that do not use random assignment are subject to selection biases and we will also look at methods for correcting for selection bias including, among others, propensity score matching, the Heckman 2-stage model and instrument variables.

Although class periods will focus largely on readings, students will be taught how to find funding sources for evaluation research and how to apply for grants. This is important in the evaluation field as most impact assessment, whether it is a social experiment or program evaluation, is conducted with funding from federal or state agencies and/or foundations. This part of the course will focus on writing competitive proposals, solid budgets, Human Subjects concerns and the art of collaboration (with multiple funders and/or researchers from multiple organizations). Students will be required to critique each others proposals and the final products will be presented in class. This is a valuable process for students as they approach the dissertation stage of their work.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

Students are expected to have completed 527, 528 and 516. This course is intended for PhD students (and MPA students with instructor permission).

Class assignments and grading


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.
Last Update by Ellen Weinstein
Date: 12/01/2010