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OL 101: My Course Help offers Quick Start Guides, an FAQ, and other information to help you navigate this site.

For quick resolution to technical or administrative issues, please Contact Our Support Staff rather than your instructor.

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Required Textbooks

  1. National Research Council. (2000). How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.
  2. D. Jonassen. (2004). Learning to Solve Problems: An Instructional Design Guide. San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer.
  3. Various case studies (listed in Course Introduction).

This course preview outlines the details of this online course. For more information on taking this course, please send an e-mail message to our support staff at info@pce.uw.edu. UW offices are closed on these holidays.

Course Introduction

Welcome to the first of two culminating courses to support you in the development of a Capstone Project in the Masters in Infrastructure Planning and Management Program. The project is as the title suggests—a project that rests atop a body of knowledge accumulated through your exposure to the curriculum of our Master’s program.

In these two courses, you will select one topic for your Capstone Project, develop a research design—formally known as a “prospectus”—conduct research, analyze the results, and complete a research paper designed to demonstrate the combination of skills and knowledge you have accrued in this program.  The first of the two courses, Capstone A, gives you access to the instructors, the literature, and the data to support your selection of a topic and development of a research design. In this quarter, you will also begin conducting the research. In other words, you will begin the process of carrying out the research you have designed, by conducting a literature review, identifying the primary data you will need to collect, and making initial contact to establish access to the data of interest.

Course Preview

  • 10 Lessons
  • 4 Written Products: Topic, Draft Prospectus, Final Prospectus, and Literature Review
  • Participation in 10 Discussion Forums

Learning Objectives

By the end of this course, students will be able to

  • explain the characteristics and basic procedures of a variety of research designs and methods practical for problem-solving for infrastructure systems planning and management;
  • describe the topic of their two-quarter Capstone Project for the Master’s program, in short form (abstract) and in detail;
  • analyze the problem described in their Capstone Project topic, and design research suited to the developing and testing of solutions to the problem;
  • situate the problem described in their Capstone Project in the context of time, space, actors, available data, and existing literature; and
  • plan and carry out a review of the literature appropriate to their Capstone Project.

The Online Environment 

Your online course offers several advantages to the traditional classroom, including the comprehensive Online Student Handbook, the ability to communicate electronically with student peers and with your instructors, and links to a rich array of UW Library Services.

Online Student Handbook

This handbook answers questions about your online learning course, such as how to purchase your text, obtain a transcript, and get technical help if you need it. The handbook also provides additional resources, such as how to order books or journals from the library and how to study for an online course.

Communicating with Your Instructors and Student Peers

Online Discussion Forums allow you to communicate with other currently enrolled students and with your instructors. We encourage you to use the discussion forums to exchange ideas, resources, and comments about your coursework with other students in this course. These forums are monitored by your instructor.

You can use e-mail to ask the instructors questions. If a question is of a general nature, considering posting it on the General Discussion Forum instead, so that other students in the class might benefit from the answer. The instructors will reply to all discussion forum questions on the forum, and to e-mail questions via e-mail.

UW Library Services

s an online student, you have access to a wealth of Web resources compiled to provide fast, easy access to information that supports your online learning experience. Organized by subject, UW Library Services links you to sites with help for writing and research, study skills, and library reference materials. All links have been assessed for credibility and reliability, and they are regularly monitored to ensure their usability.

About this Course

Course Prerequisites

The prerequisites for this course include the Core and Methods series of courses, plus a minimum of three of the six offered courses in infrastructure systems in the Masters of Infrastructure Planning and Management.

Required Materials

The required texts for this course are:

Required articles will be available as links, on the course website, or accessible through the University of Washington Library online databases.

Course Organization

This course is organized into 10 lessons, with discussion sessions that occur over the last four days of the week. You are encouraged and at times required to comment on the work of your peers. However, there are no group projects in this course. The lectures and written materials provide support to written assignments by characterizing a diverse set of options and tools for identifying problems in context, designing research, and reviewing existing literature for the wide range of topics applicable to the Master’s program.

About the Lessons

Week 1: What Is a Capstone?

The notion of a Capstone Project—as a problem in search of a solution—is introduced and explored in lecture. Alternative structures for Capstones are introduced, such as story problems, troubleshooting, system analysis, policy analysis, and case studies. The two-quarter schedule for developing the Capstone is explained. Discussion reviews the cumulative content of the MIPM curriculum.

Week 2: Developing Capstones through Stories and Case Studies

This lesson hones in on story problems, system analysis, and case studies as meaningful methods for developing Capstone Projects on problems of infrastructure planning and management. Policy analyses are given a brief review, in the context of these three means for structuring Capstone research.  Discussion narrows to examples of problems in infrastructure, keyed to elements of the MIPM curriculum, matched with one of the three means for structuring Capstone Projects.

Week 3: Capstone Topic Selection

Students propose topics of research for their Capstone Project.  Upon approval by the instructor, each Capstone topic is posted for discussion. Readings cover tools for representing problems and developing case studies.  Topics posted by each student will be designed to take advantage of the tools and introductory lessons of the readings.

Week 4: Ongoing Problem Solving as Part of Infrastructure Planning

Lecture and readings explain the relationship between material presented for the purpose of transferring knowledge (teaching), problem-solving as an ongoing demand of infrastructure planning and management, and the need to persuade communities of experts concerning both problem and solution in order to be effective in the governance of infrastructure assets. In discussion, students identify the communities of interest and disciplenary perspectives relevant to their proposed topic.

Week 5: Research Design

Lecture builds on the readings of lesson 4 to explain the relationship between theory and research design, exploring common quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-methods research designs. Readings focus in on the case method of teaching and learning as all cases, no matter how quantitative, require exposition of the context or situation in order to interpret the problem and assess the validity of the proposed solution. In discussion, students develop one or more research design schemas, exploring their interest and the plausibility of each for their Capstone Project.

Week 6:  Draft Capstone Prospectus

Students submit draft prospectus for Capstone Project research. Readings offer tips to enhance the prospectus. Lecture knits together the value of these tips in the context of infrastructure planning and management. In discussion, students comment on their peer’s proposed research designs.

Week 7: Learning and Learning Environments

Readings explore the science of learning and the design of learning environments. Lecture examines the Capstone Project as the formation of a learning environment for an intended audience, as well as the creation of learning environments in the ongoing context of infrastructure planning and management. Discussions will include different learning environments and how to design and build them.

Week 8:  Rubrics in Evaluation

Readings introduce rubrics for evaluating problem-based studies. Lecture introduces rubrics to be used to evaluate Capstone Projects. In discussion, students develop rubrics specific to their research designs as a means for self-evaluation.

Week 9: Literature Review

Students submit annotated bibliography with a draft literature review for the Capstone Project.  In discussion, students post their annotated bibliography and share tips for conducting research with the tools available within and outside the University of Washington library system.

Week 10:  Final Prospectus

Final prospectus is due. Students post plans for collecting data and contacting organizations prior to the next phase of Capstone Project development.

Course Schedule

In each of the week’s lesson, lecture consists of text plus brief, instructor-created videos.


Lesson

Required Readings and Media

Written Product

Discussion

1: What is a Capstone?

NRC, Ch 1 Learning, from Speculation to Science, Ch 2 How Experts Differ from Novices (pp. 1-50)

 

Discussion reviews the cumulative content of the MIPM curriculum.

2:  Developing Capstones through stories and case studies

Jonassen, Ch 1 What is Problem-Solving?, Ch 2 Designing Learning Environments to Support Problem Solving, and Ch 3 Presenting Problems to Learners (pp. 1-58)

 

Discussion narrows to examples of problems in infrastructure, keyed to elements of the MIPM curriculum, matched with one of the three means for structuring Capstone Projects.

3: Capstone Topic Selection

Jonassen, Ch 4 Tools for Representing Problems by Learners (pp. 59-84)
Kennedy School of Government:

Due: Capstone topic

Capstone topic is posted for discussion. Readings cover tools for representing problems and developing case studies. 

4: Ongoing Problem Solving as Part of Infrastructure Planning

NRC, Ch 3 Learning and Transfer (pp. 51-78)
Jonassen, Ch 5 Associating Solutions with Problems (pp. 85-110)

 

In discussion, students identify the communities of interest and disciplinary perspectives relevant to their proposed topic.

5:  Research Design

Kennedy School of Government:

 

In discussion, students develop one or more research design schemas, exploring their interest and the plausibility of each for their Capstone Project.

6: Draft Capstone Prospectus

Kennedy School of Government:

 

Due: Draft prospectus for Capstone Project research

In discussion, students comment on their peer’s proposed research designs.

7: Learning and Learning Environments

NRC, Ch 5 Mind and Brain, and Ch 6 The Design of Learning Environments (pp. 114-154)

 

In discussion, students will learn  about different learning environments and how to design and build them.

8: Rubrics in Evaluation

Jonassen, Ch 8 Assessing Problem Solutions and Learning (pp. 145-182)

 

In discussion, students develop rubrics specific to their research designs as a means for self-evaluation.

9: Literature Review

No assigned readings.

Due: Annotated bibliography with a draft literature review for the Capstone Project

In discussion, students post their annotated bibliography and share tips for conducting research with the tools available within and outside the University of Washington library system.

10: Final Prospectus

No assigned readings.

Due: Final prospectus

Students post plans for collecting data and contacting organizations in the next phase of Capstone Project development.

About the Assignments

There are two types of assignments in this course:

  • 4 Written Products: Topic, Draft Prospectus, Final Prospectus, and Literature Review
  • Participation in 10 Discussion Forums

Written Products

You will submit four written products: Topic, Draft Prospectus, Final Prospectus, and Literature. Your product will either be a problem-based case, a table top exercise, or a research report.
Topic
In your selection of a topic for the Capstone Project, you should be sure to select a topic:

  • of specific interest to you;
  • new to the ongoing discourse in the literature and practice for the infrastructure systems at issue;
  • for which you are aware of the skills and knowledge necessary to address the problem;
  • the MIPM program has prepared you to address (and you can therefore demonstrate newly acquired skills in addressing the topic);
  • for which the data necessary to carry out the research is believed to be accessible to you;
  • which maps to one or more of the three structures for organizing Capstone research—Story-based, System Analysis, and Case Study;
  • for which the two-term Capstone courses provide adequate time and resources to carry out sufficient research; and
  • which, preferably, involves a concern for more than one system of infrastructure—cutting across infrastructures, revealing interdependencies, or similarly demonstrating the nature of the synergies or vulnerabilities of critical infrastructures in combination.

The topic description will be limited to 1500 words, with an additional short annotated bibliography, including a minimum of 10 peer-reviewed citations.

Draft and Final Prospectus

A prospectus is a research proposal. It is written in order to obtain approval to carry out the research project—for our purposes, a Capstone Project. Once approved, the prospectus becomes a form of contract between you and the faculty members advising you in your research. Besides providing a scope of work and plan for carrying out the work, it assists you and your faculty members in determining when you have completed the project. The audience for your prospectus consists of the instructors of Capstone courses A and B, and any additional members of the MIPM faculty enlisted to serve in an advisory capacity for your Capstone Project.
Elements of the prospectus include

  • introduction to the topic (the problem of interest), your background or interests as they related to the problem (and perhaps also prepare you to address the problem), and statements of fact and opinion that demonstrate the importance of the problem;
  • the scope of the problem you intend to address, complete with research questions, a brief description of the methods of analysis (tools, data, and structure) you intend to use, and the hypotheses that suggest what you think you may discover as a result of your research;
  • a more extensive explanation of the background of the problem, in the form of a preliminary review of the literature, taking care to explain what others have done and how your work builds on or overlaps or expands on those works, and delimiting any gaps in the literature you intend to  fill with this research;
  • a more detailed explanation of the methods you intend to use (with preliminary research, if possible), for the purpose of aligning your Capstone Project to the knowledge and skills acquired in the MIPM program and demonstrating to faculty your credibility for carrying out the proposed research;
  • a list of the tasks you will carry out in order to complete the research, listing also the challenges you anticipate and how you expect to overcome those challenges, using the tasks to generate a logical framework for answering your research questions or testing your hypotheses, and including a brief contingency plan (just in case something doesn’t turn out as expected);
  • a timeline for the research in the form of a Gantt chart, providing milestones linked to dates and a paragraph describing each milestone;
  • a draft table of contents for the Capstone; and
  • an annotated bibliography, including citations for datasets available to you, with no less than 20 peer-reviewed citations in Chicago Style (16th Edition).

The draft will be submitted to course instructors and other faculty instructors for their review and comment as well as grading. Comments will be incorporated into the final.  Word count—not including bibliography—is 4000–5000 words.

Literature Review

The literature review is intended to be the first draft of the first two chapters of your Capstone report. It combines the description of your topic and problem, as developed in your Topic and Prospectus assignments, with a chapter-length treatment of the literature from your annotated bibliography (also part of your prospectus). While the prospectus contains a review of the literature, it’s purpose is more succinct, in that your goal in the prospectus is to persuade your faculty that the research you plan is original and worth pursuing.  The literature review, as a separate and final assignment for the Capstone A course, is written for a different audience, to include any and all individuals or organizations that may take an interest in you or your area of research.  It is the first of several products that will comprise your Capstone.

Word count is 2000–4000 words.

Discussion Forums

You are required to post to each of the ten discussion forums in this course. The week's topic will be released during the week in which the forums are held, and the forums will close as each week concludes. You will be required to make a one-page (150-200 word count), substantive post responding to the topic question. Before posting, read the postings of your classmates. You are also encouraged, but not required, to respond to your classmates by

  • summarizing points where you agree and disagree with one posting; or
  • submitting a revised posting, taking into account what you learned from the work of your classmates.

Postings will be graded on content pertaining to the readings and materials provided in the lessons of each week, but also the cumulative knowledge you have acquired in the MIPM. The aim of these discussion forums is to facilitate collegial interaction among course participants, to encourage students to support each other in their understanding of the concepts presented in this class and their applicability, and to provide feedback to the instructor on how well students are learning the course content.
Note: If you have questions that you don't want to discuss with the entire class, you may e-mail your instructor directly. Your instructor reserves the right to post your direct questions—anonymously—on the General Discussion Forum if the questions seem important or representative enough that the entire class would benefit from them.

Grading and Assessments

Academic Standards

Grading will be based on content, organization, and measures of style appropriate to writing at the graduate level. Style refers to your method of citing sources, grammar, punctuation, and related issues. I urge you all to refer to the Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition, University of Chicago Press) as you compose and edit your work.

Grading

Graded activities are weighted as shown in the following table:


Grades

Participation in 10 discussion forums

10 points each
(100 points total)

Topic

50 points

Draft Prospectus

100 points

Final Prospectus

50 points

Literature Review

100 points

Total

400 points

You will receive a numeric grade for this course. The numeric grading system used by the University of Washington relies on a decimal scale between 1.7 (low) and 4.0 (high). For graduate courses, grades below 1.7 are recorded as 0.0 and no credit is earned. A minimum of 2.7 is required in each course that is counted toward a graduate degree. A 3.0 cumulative average in graduate work is required to receive a graduate degree. Your total grade for the course is acquired through the point system.  To know your grade, divide your total points by 100.

Grading Criteria

Grades on the assignments will be based on

  • addressing all parts of each assignment;
  • providing adequate treatment of each part of the assignment (for example, if an item calls for an explanation of factors involved, an answer that lists factors without explaining them will be inadequate);
  • relating your work on the assignments to course readings, lessons, discussions, or supplementary readings as appropriate; and
  • documenting your sources (that is, providing citations to published material, government documents, personal interviews).

Assignments that are partially completed will not be graded.
Here are descriptions of the criteria for your performance in this class. If you meet these criteria for all your work, you will be graded appropriately. Instructors may "interpolate" grades between these standards as they see fit.




4.0

Excellent and exceptional work for a graduate student. Work at this level is consistently creative (where appropriate), thorough, well-reasoned, insightful, well-written and shows clear recognition and incisive understanding of the important materials and issues. All assignments submitted are of good professional quality. The value of individual contributions to this course is considerable and positively affects the learning of all participants.

3.7

Strong work for a graduate student. Work at this level sometimes shows signs of creativity, is thorough and well-reasoned, and demonstrates clear recognition and good understanding of the important materials and issues. Assignments submitted lack professional quality but demonstrate effort and concern for quality. The value of individual contributions to the course is strong and occasionally significant.

3.3

Competent and sound work for a graduate student. Work is well-reasoned and thorough but not especially creative or insightful. The student shows adequate understanding of the important materials and issues although that understanding may be somewhat incomplete. Work submitted is competent but not remarkable. The value of individual contributions to the course is such that they do not influence the quality of the course one way or the other. This grade indicates neither exceptional strengths nor exceptional weaknesses, but is the grade for "average" graduate performance.

3.0

Adequate work for a graduate student. Work is moderately thorough and well-reasoned, but with some indications that some of the important materials and issues is less than complete and perhaps inadequate for graduate study. The value of individual contributions to the course is minimal. However, the work is above the minimal expectations for the course.

2.7

Borderline work for a graduate student. Work just meets the minimal expectations for the course and may occasionally fall below them. Understanding of the important materials and issues is incomplete or has not been demonstrated. There is little positive value in the individual contributions to the course and there may even be negative effects on the overall learning. Consistent overall performance at this level would be below that of adequate graduate student performance.

Study Tips

Exercises from this class are open-book, so no memorization is involved in the course. The course is designed for you to learn from readings and from completing the assignments.

Some hints:

  • Pace yourself.
  • Set aside time each week that is dedicated exclusively to the course.
  • Do the readings and explore the topic using the link(s) in the lesson.
  • Begin assignments as soon as possible after completing the readings. Use all available resources, including your fellow classmates.
  • For the assignments, select an infrastructure system that you have a real interest in. Systems close to home may be easier in terms of obtaining information.

About the Course Developer

Jan Whittington

Dr. Whittington is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Urban Design and Planning at the University of Washington, Seattle. Her PhD is in City and Regional Planning from the University of California, Berkeley, where she studied transaction cost economics with recent Nobel laureate Oliver Williamson. Prior to her academic career, she spent 10 years with infrastructure giant Bechtel Corporation as a strategic planner and environmental scientist. Her environmental interests arise from undergraduate degrees in Biology and Environmental Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her master's degree is in City and Regional Planning, from California State University, San Luis Obispo.
Her professional and academic career has been shaped around the need to understand the economic and environmental consequences of large scale infrastructure projects. Our markets, governments, and quality of life depend on the consistent provision and maintenance of enormous networks of transportation, energy, water, communications, and waste. How we govern the planning, finance, design, and construction of these networks can determine the economic vitality and environmental integrity of our community. Her interest is in reducing the incredible financial and natural cost of these systems to society, while ensuring their capacity to meet the demands for service placed on them by our ever-expanding population.

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