Applied Research in Higher Education Policy and Practice

Term: 
Fall
Winter
Credits: 
4.0
Type: 
Elective
Concentration: 
Higher Education Policy
Course Description: 

Elective Course, Higher Education Policy Specialization/Concentration

This course provides students with the opportunity to learn about the history, characteristics, or impact of a higher education policy or program in an applied learning setting. In the fall semester, each student will work with the instructor to identify a real-life higher education issue that they would like to study. For example, one student may want to study the history of higher education stratification worldwide, another student may want to compare the characteristics of higher education quality assurance policies in a particular region, and a third student may want to assess the impact of student loans on post-graduation outcomes among graduates of a particular university. Through an experiential learning process, students will learn how to translate their interest in a particular higher education policy issue into researchable questions and how to design a research proposal for carrying out a policy research project.

In the winter semester, students will carry out the policy research project outlined in their research proposal. Through a combination of weekly lectures, in-class activities, independent work, and individualized project guidance from the instructor, students will learn how to collect, process, and analyze data and how to present research findings and recommendations to an audience of higher education experts and practitioners. The course will conclude with the completion of a research project portfolio, which includes an executive summary of research findings, a presentation of policy implications and recommendations, and additional project documents that demonstrate student skills in implementing and managing a policy research project.

Learning Outcomes: 

Upon successful completion of the course, students will be able to:

  • Identify researchable questions that lead to policy- or practice-relevant insights in the field of higher education
  • Design a policy research project that can address the research questions
  • Implement all steps of a policy research project, including data collection, analysis, and presentation of findings
  • Articulate possible solutions based on research findings to an audience of experts and practitioners
  • Demonstrate research, writing, and presentation skills to prospective employers, clients and other audiences
Assessment: 

To successfully complete the course, students will be required to regularly attend class, read the required readings, participate in in-class discussions and activities, and complete the following assignments:

1)      Four short preparatory assignments in the fall semester (20% of final grade in total). The four assignments are:

  • Description of a real-life higher education policy issue
  • Review of research literature and expert opinion
  • Research methods presentation
  • Data collection plan

2)      Research proposal that builds on the four preparatory assignments; max. 4000 words, due at the end of the fall semester (30% of final grade)

3)      Four progress updates in the winter semester (20% of final grade in total)

4)      Research project portfolio, due at the end of the winter semester (30% of final grade). Components of the portfolio are:

  • Executive summary of research findings
  • Presentation of policy implications and recommendations
  • Additional project documents
Prerequisites: 

None.