GOAL: Develop skills required in gathering, analyzing, and presenting information to assist public service agencies in the formulation, implementation, and evaluation of policies.


  • Negotiating with a client to determine the goals and structure of a research project.
  • Working with supervisors, clients, colleagues and experts in designing and implementing a research project.
  • Using statistics and graphs to help clients understand the information collected.
  • Managing time and understanding what it takes to produce a professional product.
  • Developing an understanding of how government and non-profit organizations try to improve society.
  • Examine the role of research methods in the formulation, implementation, and evaluation of policy.

This course uses a combination of field-experience, class discussion, individual research and written reflection to provide an introduction to the role of research in the decision-making of community agencies. The field-experience consists of each student developing and producing a quality research report for a client who represents either a non-profit or government agency. Students will spend about 80 hours on the field experience and another 60 hours in class, doing auxiliary research and writing a series of reflective papers. The field-experience component requires you to work as if you were a consultant in a think tank managed by the professor. The student’s goal is to satisfy the client and meet the standards of conduct and performance set by the professor. Therefore, the work on the research project will be evaluated not only by the quality of the end product, but also by the relationships established with the professor as a supervisor and the client as customer. Other course requirements are designed to ensure you have a firm understanding of research methods as well as your interest and capacity to build on that understanding.

The grading system is based on a total of 100 points with letter grades based on the standard noncurved formula used throughout the University. Your work will either earn points or lose points. Notice for the first set of requirements, you can only lose points. The second set indicates the~ amount of points you can gain. The items under “How to Lose Points” are usually applied to requirements that have to be met at a reasonable level of professional quality. “How to Gain Points” apply to the larger assignments that can vary in quality and still be acceptable. A grading sheet on the next page summarizes the system.


Grade Considerations
Attendance, participation
Diagnostic Test by 1/22
Agendas on time, completed thoughtfully
IRB Survey Permission
Draft Executive Summary
Faculty Advisor Report
Oral Comm. Exercise
Client Evaluation


  • Absences or inattention result in a deduction of up to three points per class. There are no excused absences. You are not tested on all material covered in class, therefore time spent in class is the only measure available. Many classes will require you to submit a paper at the end of class. If you miss a class, you may submit the paper to gain 2 out of the 3 points back.
  • Failure to meet deadline or more than 50% incomplete — one point per day until completed.
  • Failure to submit when required or poorly executed can result in a loss of up to ten points.
  • Receive approval by 2/17/99 or lose 10 points.
  • Failure to submit on time or revise as instructed can result in a loss of up to five points.
  • Failure to find a helpful faculty advisor and maintain a professional relationship with that faculty member can result in a loss of up to five points. A quality thank you letter and report is required.
  • Poor performance can result in a loss of up to 5 points.
  • Failure to meet all appointments with instructor or the client and/or failure to hand in assignments when due could result in a loss of up to 50 points.
  • A poor evaluation or complaints to the instructor from your client can result in a loss of up to 20 points.


Requirements — Maximum # of Points

Agency Paper with Bibliography — 10 points
Report to Client — 50 points
Debriefing/Heuristics Paper — 5 points
Memo to Client — 5 points
Take-Home Exam — 30 points

Total = 100 points

The following scoresheet will be used to record your work:

PAF 315 Grade Sheet For:


  • Agency Report With Bibliiography
  • Final Report to Client
  • DebriefingtHeuristics Paper
  • Memo to Client
  • Final Paper



  • Attendance/Participation
  • Diagnostic Test by 1/22 at 3:00 pm
  • Complete IRB Permission Form
  • Agendas
  • Hypothetical Executive Summary Draft
  • Faculty Report
  • Oral Communication Exercise
  • Meeting Deadlines/ Keeping Appointments
  • Client’s Evaluation


3 per class


PAF 315 Course Materials Packet. Can be purchased at the Orange Student Book Store.


Dates — Assignment Due — Class Activity

1/20 Orientation and select clients. Assignment received by 5:30pm.

1/22 None due

1/27 Diagnostic test in 102 Maxwell by 3:00 pm

2/3 Agenda/Contract Due; review Video. Discuss IRB requirements. Survey research overview; entire manual

2/10 Read manual on survey

2/17 Faculty Report/ 3 copies of Hypothetical Executive Summary and copy on disk

2/24 Agency Paper due; IRB approval due

3/3 Agenda due

3/10 None due

3/24 Rough draft due

3/31 No class

4/7 No class

4/14 Three copies of Project Report due at 3:OOPM

4/21 Debriefing Paper

4/28 Memo to Client

5/7 Take-Home Exam due 3:00 pm in Maxwell 102

(Asterisked items earn points; all others lose points)

1. Diagnostic Test — complete as much as you can within a three-hour period of work and submit on time. The test is used to assess the background you bring into the course and focuses on EXCEL. You will lose no points as long as you make the deadline, your work is at least 50% complete, and don’t cheat. However, those who fail the test will be required to attend an additional EXCEL workshop and successfully complete a follow up assignment.

2. Agendas — the format to be used in the Agenda appears in the Guide to Preparing a Research Paper. You must use an EXCEL spreadsheet and follow the exact format or you will lose points. Hand in your first agenda in class 2 another in the 6th class. Enter all the deadlines from the syllabus on the agenda as well as items for your research project.

3. Faculty Advisor Report — one page due the fourth week describing your meeting or your search for a faculty member. A final evaluation of your faculty contact is part of the debriefing paper due the twelfth week.

You can find a faculty advisor for your project by looking at reports by previous PAF 315 students, asking classmates and knowledgeable people. The faculty advisor should be interested in the work of your agency or the project topic and should give you both substantive and methodological advice. Most faculty will be happy to talk to you about one of their favorite research subjects. Some questions you might ask your faculty advisor are, “Do you recommend any books/articles relevant to my study?”, “What research/experience do you have in this area?”, and/or “Would you mind looking over my questionnaire/survey procedure later on?”. Make an initial 15-minute meeting and explain to the faculty member that he or she does not have to give you any more time.

4. *Agency Paper (10pts.)– a memo that briefs the Instructor on what your agency and client do. You must use the format below.

NAME. The full name and title of your client and the client’s organization. Include telephone number and address.

HISTORY. Provide a brief history of the organization, including its founding date, the founding date of the office of your client, and the most important dates for the entire organization as well as the office of your client.

SOCIETAL PROBLEM. List three societal problems your agency attempts to ameliorate.

PROJECT MISSION. Describe briefly the relationship of your project to the organization in terms of the organization’s mission, operations and structure.

CLIENT IN THE ORGANIZATION. Discuss your client’s role, including the immediate supervisor, the supervisor’s supervisor, and the role of outside organizations, such as advisory boards.

BUDGET. Indicate the size of the budget for your client’s office and the organization. Indicate the source of the funds.

ORGANIZATION’S CONTEXT. Briefly describe the relationship of the organization to its parent organization, if it has one, or other funding organizations. If it is a government organization, describe the relationship with local, state, and federal governments. If it is a private organization, describe its relationship with the parent organizations and its relationship with local, state, and federal government agencies.

ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY. Prepare a one-page overview and at least five annotated entries that describe publications–books, articles, government documents, etc.-that discuss the work of your agency and/or the general societal problems that your agency deals with. Sources that discuss the exact topic of your research project that you might run across should appear in the report either as part of the formal discussions or as an appendix. DATA SOURCE. Identify a quantitative data source that is published at regular time intervals that will be useful to your client and organization. Give the exact reference, discuss why it would be useful, and what its limitations would be.

Note: Include as appendices organizational charts and explanations by the agency. Also, feel free to include in the paper quoted material directly from agency and government publications. Make sure you give proper credit with full citations for any information taken from other sources. Cite any interviews you conducted as a source of information. If you use a substantial amount of material, even if heavily edited, indicate a general source with a phrase something like “This section is based on You will be evaluated on the extent to which you include pertinent information, not on the amount of original writing.

5. *Community Link Report (50pts) — the standards of quality, content, and organization of the Community Link Report is discussed in the Manual. Prepare three copies: one for your client, one for you and one for the instructor. Mail or deliver a copy and the client evaluation form located in the manual to your client. The report will be graded using the grade sheet below.

Grading Form for Community Link Report

1. Writing 5
2. Appearance 5
3. Executive Summary 5
4. Methods-Quality 10
5. Findings-Quality 15
6. Research Sophistication 5
7. Effort/Management 5


6. *Debriefing/Heuristics Paper (5 pts) — the purpose of this paper is to have you reflect on your performance and also how the experience fits into your career plans. The paper should be organized into the following sections and should use the exact titles listed below. Each section should be no more than two pages. You should be able to write this paper in one hour, although you may find yourself spending every waking hour thinking about it.

HEURISTICS FOR DOING IT BETTER THE NEXT TIME. Choose three principles discussed in the debriefing session of class that would have helped you do the project better should you have followed.

CRITIQUE OF ORIGINAL CONTRACT. Using your copy of your original contract, write a paragraph indicating its strengths and weaknesses. Submit your original contract, marked with notes describing how it should be rewritten, if necessary.

PLANNING MY WORK. Create a final agenda that includes all completed activities and completion dates. Discuss whether or not you made misjudgments at the beginning of the project and what the consequences of those misjudgments may have been.

WHAT I LEARNED RELEVANT TO MY CAREER. Reflect on what this experience did for your own thinking about your future. How much did you like doing the research? What did you learn about working with non-profit and government agencies? What do you plan to do when you graduate and how has this experience affected your plans.

THANK-YOU LETTER TO FACULTY ADVISOR. Prepare two copies of a thank-you letter to your faculty advisor using the sample format given in the Community Link Manual. Send one and include a copy in this paper.

The debriefing/heruistics paper will be graded using the grade sheet below.

Grading Form for DebriefingtHeuristics Paper

1. Heuristics for Doing it Better Next Time 1
2. Critique of Contract 1
3. Planning My Work 1
4. What I Learned Relevant to My Career 1
5. Thank-You Letter to Faculty Advisor I


7. *Memo To Client (5pts) — two copies of a memo along with an addressed envelope should be handed to me. If the memo is good enough, I will mail it. The memo should start with a thank you and introduction, and then outline what is contained in the remainder of the memo. It must discuss all of the following:

Comment on how future students completing Community Link projects could work more efficiently with your agency.

o One research project that the agency might want to undertake; briefly say why.

o A policy change that you think the agency might undertake in the area on which you did your research project.

8. *Oral Communication Exercise (5pts) — this activity tests your ability to carry on a professional conversation. Classmates will conduct conversations in an exercise format.

9. *Take home final examination (30pts)–Prepare a paper of no more than 6 double-spaced pages that presents to the Director of the Agency you worked for a policy proposal that covers the following: Summary Policy Formulation–problem, causes, policy alternatives Policy Implementation–administration and political feasibility Policy Evaluation–how you would study the effectiveness of the policy

In presenting your analysis, you should follow the guide on Preparing a Policy Briefing paper in
the course manual.

1. Survey research design with respect to sampling
2. Scaling numbers (not percentages)
3. Using trend lines
4. Describing differences between two time periods with percentages
5. Comparing two groups using a table with row and column percentages
6. Research designs for evaluating social problems

Those components are described in section 4-5 of the course manual. Grade criteria is indicated in the cover sheet below.
Grading Form for Final Examination for:

1. Implementation 3
2. Evaluation 3
3. Survey research design with respect to sampling 3
4. Scaling numbers (not percentages) 3
5. Using trend lines 3
6. Describing differences between two time periods with percentages 3
7. Comparing two groups using a table with row and column Ws 3
8. Research designs for evaluating social problems 3
9. Clear and concise writing 3