550: Unit 4

History 550: Politics and Public Policy, Winter 2022

Intro | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Part IV: Research projects on public policy issues. (For short block, meet in the library)

Links: List of policy issues; my current events guide; page of recent articles on politics and policy; Citation Guide.

Week 9, continued.

24. Meet in the library Thursday (D) and Friday (E). 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).

Week 10: Library research (meet in the library during short block. There will be four class meetings in the library this week.)

25. Research time

Check in at the library. Homework: continue to work on project.

26. Research time

Check in at the library.

27. Research time.

Check in at the library.

Week 10: Policy presentations: We will meet in the EPAC Forum for the final presentations.

Monday, Feb. 28 and the finals block. Please arrive to class ON TIME.

RESEARCH PROJECT/8-MINUTE PRESENTATION: 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 newspapers, magazines, and online quality journalism (like Vox and Propublica), but also you should find information from some in-depth sources: books in the library stacks or scholarly journals in the library databases. (Note: the library subscribes to a book series called "Opposing Viewpoints" that contain articles on issues of contemporary relevance.) The library has created a special "libguide" just for this course; the reference tab has a few very useful sources. Also, consult the links on my Current Events Guide, including 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 use the internet more effectively.

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 an 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: Every presentation should be 8-MINUTES long and cover the following topics about one issue of public concern:

      • 1. Basic and essential Facts. Provide your audience with what they need to know to be intelligent voters on this topic.

      • 2. Alternative policy positions. What do liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans think about the issue, and what policies do they support? And are their important viewpoints outside of or within the usual American political binaries.

      • 3. Your recommendation. As the foremost expert in the room, we want to know what you would have us 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 15 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.

    • 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 this is the optimum length for the human attention span. 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. Everyone in the audience knows what time limit is and when you to over they know you have broken a contract with them. It signals a lack of respect for them, saps the audience's receptiveness to your and all subsequent presentations, and messes up the plans I made for the class period. I'm going to weigh time management very heavily in the grade. I am reluctant to step in and stop a presentation, but if you've forced me to do it, it will REALLY hurt your grade. 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.

    • 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.