Lehigh CORPS Regional Economic Development Practicum
This Lehigh Community Research and Policy Service course will. involve teams of students in community-oriented research projects. The twin purposes of the program are: 1) to provide real-world, team oriented learning experiences to Lehigh students and 2) to provide a resource for local governments and community organizations that would allow them to draw upon the expertise of our students as consultants in analyzing problems and formulating policy.
The students will participate in the design and execution of a specific research project identified by a Lehigh Valley development agency. A description of this year's projects is attached. The results of this research project will be communicated both orally and in a written report to the agency. Your grade in this course will, be determined in consultation with the agency and will be based upon your written report, your presentations in class and to the agency and your team's research notebook. The research notebook win include copies of briefings, a weekly work record, an annotated bibliography of books, articles and other material used in your project and a copy of the presentation prepared for the sponsoring agency. This research notebook will also be presented to the agency. An outline for the final report is also attached. At term's end we will also ask each of you for a peer evaluation of other teammates, using the form attached here.
Even though this course has no assigned readings or tests, it remains a 3-credit course. We expect 3 credits worth of work from each of you. A typical 3 credit course meets 2.5 to 3 hours per week and faculty generally expect two to three times that out of class doing reading, homework, writing and so forth. This is roughly 10 hours of effort per student per week. Sustained effort at this pace throughout the semester is required by each member of a project team to provide your external client with a substantive, Lehigh-quality report.
We are scheduled to meet in Rauch 101 every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 2-3pm. Please take note of the following scheduled meetings for the entire class. In addition to these scheduled meetings each team will. meet with the instructors at least once a week. Any other meetings for the entire class will be announced before time.
1/13 Introduction, Summary of projects
1/15 Initial sorting of students into study teams
1/18 Assignment of teams to projects
1/22 Brief Statement of the Study Project after consultation with Agency
2/17 & 19 Presentation of a complete problem statement and proposed methodology
3/29 & 31 Mid-semester briefing on sections 11, 111, and IV (see outline) of the Report
3/31 Written draft of sections II, III & IV due
4/26-30 Dry run of team presentations
5/3 Final Reports Due
4/30-5/7 Oral presentation of results and submission of Final Report to Agency
Eco 295 Lehigh CORPS
Regional Economic Development Practicum
Research Projects Identified by Development Agencies
1. Fresh Food Market Impact Project
Community Action Development Corporation of Bethlehem – Esther Guzman
This agency is interested in research to support an initiative to establish a fresh food market on the South Side of Bethlehem. One key element is a survey of consumer eating and shopping habits to help determine the need for new fresh food outlets. This survey would address the degree of shopping inconvenience currently facing South Side residents. A second element would be an assessment of the economic impact of a fresh food market on the community.
2. Profile of Tourists and Potential Tourists to the Lehigh Valley
Lehigh Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau – Mary Ann Bungerz
This project would develop and analyze the results of a mail survey of people who have received tourist information from the bureau. The survey would be designed to address questions related to: 1. The perceptions of the Lehigh Valley as a tourist destination; 2. The effectiveness of the bureaus promotional literature; 3. The development of demographic profiles of those who actually visit the area and those who requested information but didn't visit the area, and 4. The assembly of a data base on the spending levels and patterns of visitors. The starting point is an existing survey instrument developed by Muhlenberg College students.
3. The Impact of Tax-Exempt Properties on Lehigh Valley Cities
Lehigh Valley Partnership Strategic Planning Committee – Ed Yarrish
This project will collect data on the total assessed value and foregone tax revenue of properties that are exempt from property taxes in Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton. The data necessary for this project is available at the county administration centers in Allentown and Easton. The final report would be centered around a series of spread sheets that provide the information needed by the Strategic Planning Committee.
4. Transportation Barriers to Successful Welfare to Work Transitions
Council of Hispanic Organizations – Lupe Pierce
The Council is preparing a proposal for a transportation grant to improve the public transportation options open to inner-city residents. They would like research to document the extent to which women living in the inner city of Allentown are limited in their search for employment by the current configuration of bus routes. The study team would meet with LANTA planners to identify ways in which routes could be changed or new services developed to enhance the possibility of successful transitions from welfare to work.
5. A Structured Approach to Philanthropy
Lehigh Valley Community Foundation – Jan Surotchak
The study team would use existing methodology to survey and interview donors and potential donors to the Foundation. The purpose of this research is to assist the foundation in analyzing giving patterns and identifying potential donors by developing a database on the level of donations, the timing of donations and the motivation for donations by philanthropists.
6. The Vitality of the Local Entrepreneurial Environment
Bridgeworks Enterprise Center – Wayne Barz
This project would attempt to assess the vitality of the local environment for assisting people in starting businesses. Mr. Barz feels that the long dominance of large corporations in the local economy and the "nonrisk-taking" attitude in Pennsylvania German Society limit the local support for business development. One important element would be the collection of statistical data and other information to compare the Lehigh Valley with other similarly sized urban areas. Such a benchmarking study could serve as a way of "testing" Mr. Barz's hypotheses.
7. Lehigh County Reuse and Regeneration Center
Good Shepherd Work Services – Joe Schwindenhammer
Significant volumes of re-usable building materials and large furnishings and appliances are disposed of each year in municipal waste collection programs. A growing number of cities nationwide are opening refurbishment operations that entail retrieving these materials from the waste stream, refurbishing them and selling them through thrift-like retail establishments. Good Shepherd Work Services has developed a business plan for opening a Reuse and Regeneration Center in Lehigh County by April 2000. Its multiple goals include reducing the waste disposal volumes and costs for the County and providing work training for people with disabilities and (in conjunction with Lehigh County vo-tech) for young people from the County juvenile detention programs. They would like a projection of the economic costs and benefits of the Center for Good Shepherd and for Lehigh County, based on comparisons to the results at similar centers throughout the country. They have detailed information of five such centers, but would like more in-depth analysis and collection of a broader set of data.
Eco 295: Lehigh CORPS Regional Economic Development Practicum
Required Topics in Final Report
The final reports should cover the following topics, discussed in more detail below.
1. Executive Summary
II. Introduction & Problem Statement
III. Background Research
V. Findings & Analysis
VI. Conclusions & Recommendations
You do not need to follow this specific outline—organize your reports to suit your project-but each report should address the broad topics.
The oral presentations should be summaries of the same topics. We encourage you to use overheads/computer projection and presentation software such as PowerPoint and make your presentations as professional as possible. Remember that we would like you to present your findings in an oral briefing at the end of the term to the client organizations.
I. Executive Summary
Write this last. In the final report please include an executive summary of your project.
Busy policymaker executives may, in fact, never read whole research project reports, so executive summaries are critical to effective use of your work. The executive summary should be able to stand alone (and include the title and your names). It is not an introduction (e.g. not "this report
contains….") You should be able, if you wanted, to hand it out at a community meeting or pass it along to the mayor, and have it alone be useful and informative. It should contain the major questions you addressed, your methods and your main findings and conclusions, and essential supporting points for those conclusions. Think of the executive summary as a complete mini version of your report. After reading it, the mayor should be able to give her constituents or the local paper a cogent description of your main findings and how you arrived at diem. Shoot for approximately 500 words. [No need to do this for the mid-semester draft reports]
An effective executive summary-:
uses one or more well-developed paragraphs, which are unified, coherent, concise, and able to stand alone;
uses an introduction-body-conclusion structure in which the parts of the report are discussed in order. purpose, methods, findings, conclusions, recommendations
follows strictly the chronology of the report;
provides logical connections between material 'included;
adds no new information but simply summarizes the report;
is intelligible to a wide audience.
To write an effective executive summary, follow these four steps outlined by the Purdue University Writing Lab:
1. Reread your report with the purpose of summarizing in mind. Look specifically for these parts: purpose, methods, findings, conclusions, and recommendations.
2. After you have finished rereading your report, write a rough draft without looking back at your report. Consider the main parts of the summary listed in step #1. Do not merely copy key sentences from your report. You will put in too much or too little information. Do not summarize information in a new way.
3. Revise your rough draft to:
correct weaknesses in organization and coherence,
drop superfluous information,
add important information originally left out,
eliminate wordiness, and
fix errors in grammar and mechanics.
4. Type your revision and carefully proofread the typed copy. Reading aloud may feel silly but can often catch unclear or awkward written style. This also applies to the main body of the report.
II. Introduction & Problem Statement
What is the general problem area your project involves? What is the client organization and what, briefly, does it do? What, specifically, does the client organization want from the project, and what might be likely uses of your analysis once completed? What is known and what is unknown? In other words, overview what you are doing and why the client (or other readers) is interested in the findings in the first place. Do not assume the reader knows about the problem, or that the reader thinks it is an important or interesting problem. Also lay out the scope of your problem: when, where, what extent. State the "what and why" as specifically and concretely as you can, rather than generally and abstractly.
III. Background Research
The idea here is to spend some significant effort finding out what others know questions they've asked, and how they did it, so you are not starting from scratch or re-creating the wheel. You should discuss previous studies, research, papers, data, etc. that have addressed similar issues. What have those who looked into this area before already discovered? What other cities or agencies have done similar studies? What were their major findings and how (methodology) did they do it What were the major unanswered questions and why? How is the focus of your project similar or different? How has the previous research shaped what you did/are doing in your project? You should also here define any terms that may be unfamiliar to a general reader.
Describe in detail your research methodology. What information/data sources are you using? What, specifically, do they contain? How were they collected/put together? What is their scope? How will you be using that information, specifically? If you are collecting your own data, how and what, specifically A good methodology section would allow the reader to fully re-construct the steps you took if the reader wanted to repeat your study.
V. Findings & Analysis
Describe and present in detail your findings, your analysis of those findings, and fully discuss the implications of those findings for your client organization. Describe in detail each point of support for your main conclusions. Here is the key area where you establish the credibility of your work. Support all points by carefully selected relevant data. Acknowledge sources. Any table or chart should be numbered, fully explained in the text and also have a descriptive tide. It is appropriate here to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of your data, your methods and overall findings. Where data are not available, acknowledge the lack of support material and explain why you think as you do in spite of the information gap. [For the mid-semester drafts, in this section be as complete as you can at this stage. What have you found so far?]
VI. Conclusions & Recommendations
It is generally appropriate here to restate the general problem, and then summarize your main findings and major points of support for those findings. What is the central theme in this report? You also want to include your recommendations for how the client organization could use your findings. Also discuss questions/issues that remain unexplored and any areas for future work that your work uncovered. What concrete steps should the organization take based on your findings? Are there significant holes in policies or available information that the organization could remedy?
Include a complete list of references and data sources you used. In the body of the text, cite references where appropriate. Use whatever citation style you are familiar with, but be complete. The reader should know which ideas are yours and which are someone else's. You should include in your citations and references any on-line information you used. A useful reference is the Modem Language Association's on-line citation style guide at http://www.mla.org.
Professor: Todd A. Watkins
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