550: Unit 4
History 550: Politics and Public Policy, Winter 2023
Part IV: Research projects on public policy issues.
29. Meet in the library. It's important that you read the following guidelines and follow them carefully. Your grade will depend largely on how well you follow these directions. For ideas of policy topics, take a look at THIS PAGE (link), where I've posted readings on various political and policy issues. Political articles are on top; scroll down for policy articles. (Also, familiarize yourself with the LibGuide for HIS550).
Today we will also go over how to evaluate the reliability and political slant of stuff found on the web, by going over this page on this website.
29. Research Time
Check in at the library.
30. Research time.
Check in at the library.
31. Research time.
Check in at the library.
32. Research Time.
33. Release time/more research time.
34. Thursday. Policy presentations: We will meet in the Meyer Auditorium for the first few final presentations. Please consult the Google Doc to know who is presenting when.
35. Friday. Policy Presentations: Meet again in Meyer.
36. Tuesday during the finals schedule. Policy Presentations.
SCHEDULE for A and B formats, 2023
Thursday: Connor/Morgan, Meredith/Emilia
Friday: Luca, Grady/Abby
Final block: Dissandou, Ariana/Riyah, Sophie/Jane
Thursday: Leo, Tanner, Carter, Andy
Friday: Leela, Emi, Anna
Final block: Hillary, Nataly, Jacob, Aliyana
PARTICULARS OF THE RESEARCH PROJECT PRESENTATIONS
(5-8 minutes): THE PARTICULARS. Please read carefully. To do well on this project you need to follow the guidelines.
Research: Be sure to include a variety of sources in your research. You may use journalistic sources (newspapers, news magazines, and online journalism like Reuters or Propublica), policial publications (like New Republic, Jacobin, National Review); make sure you use our excellent library resources. That includes e-reference sources like CQ Quarterly and Issues and Controveries and the book series "Opposing Viewpoints." The librarians have created a special "libguide" just for this course. In-depth sources: books in the library stacks or scholarly journals in the library databases. Data sources, like opinion polls (Pew, Gallup), or employment (Labor department).
Also, consult the links on my Current Events Guide, to political opinion journals and the "various and sundry links." Dot-gov sources, think tanks, or online versions of well known periodicals are generally preferable to random blogs or dot-com sites, the source of which is unknown. Use websites of advocacy groups to understand their positions, but not for the facts. Use Wikipedia to chose a topic and find relevant sources, but do not use it for research. See this page for tips on how to asses the slant and reliability of web pages.
If you chose to work in pairs, I will expect to see twice as much research done.
Annotated Bibliography: You need to include a bibliography listing the sources you used in your research. Look at this Citation Guide and make sure you have proper bibliographical formatting (use Turabian/Chicago style, not MLA). When you cite Internet sources, be sure to list the sponsoring organization as well as the web address and the author and title. A BRIEF Annotation (one to three sentences) should tell me which kind of source among the different recommended types (see "Research" above), and the ideological slant. Never trust an internet site you are not familiar with. See my Research the Web guide for useful tips on how to evaluate Internet sources. I'm looking for you to demonstrate some savvy about the media and to have a well-balanced view of your topic.
Potential topics: Policy areas include but are not limited to tax policy, environment, energy, drugs, crime, health, food, agriculture, welfare, social security, education (federal, state, local; early childhood, primary, secondary, college), housing. As you think about topics, be careful not to choose something that is so big and complicated that you can't possibly do justice to it in a 5-8-minute presentation. E.G. Instead of anti-terrorism policies, I had a student do a presentation one year on the question of whether to create a national ID card. He was able to do this topic very thoroughly in the time allotted. Instead of the whole federal tax code, you might do a presentation on the progressive income tax and marginal tax rates.
PRESENTATION GUIDELINES (a really clear roadmap of how to do well on this project)
CONTENT (what you say): Every presentation should be 5 MINUTES long and cover the following about one issue of public concern:
1. The problem. Give the basic and essential facts. Show dilemmas.
2. Policy possibilities. Are there policy positions favored by liberals vs conservatives, Democrats vs and Republicans? And are there viewpoints worth considering outside of the usual American political binaries?
3. Your recommendation. As the foremost expert in the room, we want to know what you think we SHOULD do on this issue.
4. Future prospects. Given the current political landscape, how likely is it that your recommendation or any other will be enacted?
Use relevant graphic images, not just text. These graphics should somehow stimulate interest or illustrate key ideas, and enhance viewers' understanding of the topic, give them a visual anchor, and keep them engaged. If you have some sort of pie chart or bar graph, make sure that you give the audience time to absorb and understand it. Provide whatever guidance they may need. Explain what the graph illustrates. Over the years I've noticed that graphs produced by the student themselves tend to be more relevant and easier to see than the ones they cut and paste from web sites or journals. If you don't know how to use Excel, try the create-a-graph website. Don't include citations for the sources of images in your bibliography, unless you've also used that source for research.
Use a laser pointer. If you have a complicated graphic that the audience is not likely going to be able to understand while looking at it and also trying to pay attention to what you are saying, guide them through it with a laser pointer or an on-screen cursor.
Where you do include text, keep it minimal and concise. Use bold, concise headings and large fonts; very brief bullet points (no more than three or four per slide); pithy (short), relevant quotations. One effective strategy is to use the animations tab to have the bullet points appear on the slides as you are discussing them (here's a site that shows you how to do that). That way the audience is not tempted to read ahead, and miss what you are saying.
Extended text should be delivered orally by you, the narrator, with the PowerPoint visuals as a backdrop. The PowerPoint should not be a projection of a speech that you deliver, but should provide visuals that support and enhance your oral presentation. You may read from a prepared text or speak from notes. Strive to deliver your talk using effective public speaking techniques; I will be assessing energy level, pacing, eye contact (with audience), articulation, projection, modulation (vs. monotone).
You may use Microsoft PowerPoint for PCs, Google Docs presentation software or create an online Prezi document, all of which can be projected from my PC, which will be connected to the projector in Meyer or the classroom. If you produce a PowerPoint on a Mac, some of the features may not work on my PC. You are responsible for making sure the presentation works on a PC before sending it to me (this point is somewhat negotiable; we might be able to have you project from your mac).
Email me your PowerPoint presentation. This document should include your bibliography.
AT LEAST 30 MINUTES before the class email me the PowerPoint presentation you plan to show, share your Google presentation with me (send the link), or send me a link to your Prezi. In Google presentation, click on the green "get shareable link" button and paste it into an email to me. Don't use the "send link to people" function. THIS IS IMPORTANT AND PART OF THE TIME-MANAGEMENT ASSESSMENT.
It's important that you do not go over the 8-minute time limit. After many years of sitting through student PowerPoint presentations, I've determined that a 5-8-minute presentation is about the maximum for holding an audience's attention. Any longer leads to dire consequences. For every thirty seconds over 8 minutes your audience's opinion of you begins to decline by about 10 percent as they begin to contemplate the brevity of their lives. It's up to you to keep track of the time and not go over (but if I have to cut you off--and I will--it will cost you grade-wise). The purpose of the presentation is to give a basic introduction to the topic, stimulate interest so that your listeners might be inspired to learn more, not to impress us with the depth of your research. You can use the bibliography to do that.
Transitions. It's important to make transitions efficiently. This depends on your getting the PowerPoint to me at the assigned time. We should be able to transition from one presentation to another in 2 minutes.
TED talks offer good examples of successful PowerPoints for the most part. The film, "An Inconvenient Truth," is essentially a feature-length, very good PowerPoint presentation. Here is one pretty good five-minute PowerPoint.
Assessment: Time management & meeting deadlines; research quality (as shown in bibliography); Oral presentation; visuals. If you are working in pairs, you should use that asset to enhance the presentation--enact a news cast with co-anchors, for example, or make up a dialogue presenting opposing views. There should be a rationale for having used two presenters instead of one.
Note: This is a set of performances. It's not just a matter of presenting ideas. You are also responsible to your audience and fellow presenters in the same way that actors on a stage are. That means there should be a certain amount of rehearsal and attention to timing, blocking, transitions.