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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.
By the end of this course, students will be able to:
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
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.
The required text for this course is:
Other required materials:
Required articles will be available as links, on the course website, or accessible through the University of Washington Library online databases.
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.
In each of the week’s lesson, lecture consists of text plus brief, instructor-created videos.
About the Assignments
There are three types of assignments in this course:
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:
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.
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.
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
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
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.
Graded activities are weighted as shown in the following table:
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.
Grades on the assignments will be based on
Assignments that are partially completed will not be graded.
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.
About the Course Developer
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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