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Required Textbooks

  1. Toulmin, S. E. (1972).  Human understanding: Collective use and understanding of concepts.  New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

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 second 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 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.  In IPM 513—Capstone A: Research Design, you completed a prospectus, and drafted the first two chapters of the Capstone, which are the introduction and literature review. In IPM 515—Capstone B: Implementation, you will carry out the research, completing chapters on methodology, results, discussion, and conclusions, and revising your introduction and literature review as necessary to align with the work as it was completed. As the quarter—and your work in this program!—nears to a close, you will present the completed draft with a presentation to faculty and peers, incorporate suggested changes, and file the final Capstone project report.

Course Preview

  • 10 Lessons
  • 5 Written Products: Draft Methodology and Results, Draft Discussion and Conclusions, Revised Introduction and Literature Review, Presentation of Completed Draft, and Final Capstone Report.
  • Presentation of Draft Capstone to Faculty and Peers
  • Participation in 10 Discussion Forums

Learning Objectives

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

  • plan and carry out a research project exhibiting the characteristic scientific knowledge and skill sets for analyzing infrastructure within and across sectors taught in the MIPM program; and
  • present the details of a research project—research question, gap in literature, research method, results, and implications for literature and practice—to audiences of academics and practitioners.

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 instructor 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

As 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, and the Capstone A: Research Design course in the Masters of Infrastructure Planning and Management.

Required Materials

The required text for this course is:

  • Toulmin, S. E. (1972).  Human understanding: Collective use and understanding of concepts.  New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

Other required materials:

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: Completing your Capstone

The roadmap for completing a capstone is introduced and explored in lecture. Paths for research for story problems, system analysis, and case studies are discussed for differences and commonalities. The schedule for the quarter is explained. Discussion reviews the past and future Capstone requirements.

Week 2: Concepts as Foundations

This lesson orients students to the idea that concepts form the basis for human understanding, and places these and other ideas from Toulmin’s text into their perspective as researchers and authors of Capstones, as well as the perspectives of those who participate in their research and receive the results of research. Discussion prompts for applications of Toulmin’s perspectives to the Capstone research underway.

Week 3: Focus on Story Problems, aka Problem-Based Learning

The focus this week is on story problems, also known as problem-based learning—one of three methods or frameworks for developing a Capstone project. Students engaging in this method are asked to contribute leading examples to discussion, tying in their own research with the principles and processes of problem-based learning.

Week 4: Focus on Systems Analysis, aka Soft System Methodology

The focus this week is on systems analysis, also known as soft system methodology, the second of three methods or frameworks for developing a Capstone project. Students engaging in this method are asked to contribute leading examples to discussion, tying in their own research with the principles and processes of problem-based learning.

Week 5: Focus on Case Studies

The focus this week is on case studies, the last of three methods or frameworks for developing a Capstone project. Students engaging in this method are asked to contribute leading examples to discussion, tying in their own research with the principles and processes of problem-based learning.

Week 6:  Draft Methodology and Results

Students submit draft methodology and results chapters for Capstone Project research. Lecture brings together tips to enhance the integrity and presentation of methodologies and results. In discussion, students reflect on results in the context of the literature reviewed for the Capstone.

Week 7: Draft Discussion and Conclusions

Students submit draft discussion and conclusion chapters for Capstone Project research. Lecture brings together tips to enhance the integrity and presentation of methodologies and results. In discussion, students reflect on the body of work, and on steps to refine the product.

Week 8:  Draft Capstone

Students submit complete draft of Capstone Project report, for faculty and peer review. In discussion, faculty and peers provide feedback and students consider the final steps before completing the Capstone.

Week 9: Presenting Capstones

Students submit brief presentations about their Capstones, in various media, for faculty and peer review and comment. These works are intended to present the Capstones as products to external audiences.

Week 10:  Final Capstone

Final Capstone is due. In discussion, students reflect on the Capstone experience and on their time in the MIPM program.

 

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: Completing your Capstone

Toulmin, S. E. (1972).  Human understanding: Collective use and understanding of concepts.  New Jersey: Princeton University Press. (Chapters 1-3)

 

Discussion reviews Capstone requirements.

2:  Concepts as Foundations

Toulmin, S. E. (1972).  Human understanding: Collective use and understanding of concepts.  New Jersey: Princeton University Press. (Chapters 4-7)
“Learning in Interactive Environments: Prior Knowledge and New Experience,” Jeremy Roschelle, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth.

 

Discussion applies Toulmin’s perspectives to Capstone topics and experience.

3: Focus on Story Problems

"Problem-Based Learning," Speaking of Teaching, Stanford University Newsletter on Teaching, Vol. 11, No. 1, Winter 2001
“Problem-Based Learning: A Total Approach to Education” by Howard S. Barrows, M.D. and Ann Myers Kelson, M.A., Southern Illinois School of Medicine.
“PBL Clearinghouse”, Problem-Based Learning, University of Delaware.

 

Students using story problems explain their use of the method. 

4: Focus on Systems Analysis

Checkland, P.  Achieving 'Desirable and Feasible' Change: An Application of Soft Systems Methodology The Journal of the Operational Research Society, Vol. 36, No. 9, Systems Thinking in Action. Conference at Henly. April 1985 (Sep., 1985), pp. 821-831
Gregory, F. H. “Cause, Effect, Efficiency & Soft Systems Models” Warwick Business School Research Paper No. 42 (ISSN 0265-5976) January 1992.
Hindle, G. A. 2011. Case Article: eaching soft systems methodology and a blueprint for a module. INFORMS Trans. Ed. 12(1) 31–42.

 

Students using systems analysis explain their use of the method.

5:  Focus on Case Studies

"Teaching with Case Studies," Speaking of Teaching, Stanford University Newsletter on Teaching, Vol. 5, No. 2, Winter 1994.
“Case Method Website: How to Teach with Cases” John Foran, Department of Sociology, UC Santa Barbara.
“National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science” State University of New York at Buffalo.

 

Students using case studies explain their use of the method.

6: Draft Methodology and Results

No assigned readings.

 

Due: Draft Chapters, Methodology and Results

In discussion, faculty and students comment on the research.

7: Draft Discussion and Conclusions

No assigned readings.

Due: Draft Chapters, Discussion and Conclusions

In discussion, faculty and students comment on the research.

8: Draft Capstone

No assigned readings.

Due: Final Draft Capstone, All Chapters

In discussion, faculty and peers comment on student research.

9: Literature Review

No assigned readings.

Due: Brief Presentation (various media)

In discussion, students comment on their peer’s presentations.

10: Final Capstone

No assigned readings.

Due: Final Capstone

Students reflect on the Capstone experience and MIPM program.

 

About the Assignments

There are three types of assignments in this course:

  • 5 Written Products: Draft Methodology and Results, Draft Discussion and Conclusions, Revised Introduction and Literature Review, Presentation of Completed Draft, and Final Capstone Report.
  • Presentation of Draft Capstone to Faculty and Peers
  • Participation in 10 Discussion Forums

Written Products

You will submit five written products, consisting of draft and final chapters of the Capstone Report, and one presentation, in a media of your choosing, of your Capstone in brief.

Draft and Final Capstone Report

A Capstone Report is a written work of several chapters, structured in the tradition of a scientific paper, as follows:

  • Introduction—Introduction to the topic, facts and opinion that demonstrate the importance of the topic, a brief summary of your research question and design, foreshadowing of conclusions, and organization of the report.
  • Literature Review—Review of the existing literature pertinent to your topic, methods, and data for analyzing the topic, covering theories, empirical literature, and the literatures of practice, and pointing to gaps in the literature your work begins to address.
  • Methodology—Explanation of the methods and data you use to answer your research question, and limitations of these methods and data, explained in sufficient detail for another researcher, unknown to you, to be able to replicate your research.
  • Results—The results you found when carrying out your methodology, responding directly to your research question, and explaining any limitations of your research.
  • Discussion—The placement of your results in the context of the literature, designed to explain how your results compare, contrast, or would suggest modifications of existing theories, empirical research, and literatures of practice.
  • Conclusions—Explanation of your findings for the purpose of establishing or continuing an agenda for future research, but also and importantly, the implications of your findings for practitioners in the sectors of infrastructure of note in your research.
  • Accompanying Elements—Title page, Abstract, Acknowledgements, Table of Contents, List of Figures, List of Tables, List of References, and Footnotes or Endnotes as necessary.

The draft will be submitted to faculty instructors for their review and comment as well as grading. Comments will be incorporated into the final. Word count—not including bibliography—is 15,000-25,000 words.

Presentation

Whether as a PowerPoint presentation, poster, or animation, the presentation conveys the central elements of the work in a short period of time, highlighting the topic, research question, research methods, findings, and contribution to literature and practice.

Typical timing of presentation: no longer than 15 minutes.

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 on 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

5 points each
(50 points total)

Draft Methodology and Results

50 points

Draft Discussion and Conclusions

50 points

Draft Capstone (Complete)

100 points

Final Capstone

50 points

Presentation

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.

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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