PP5502 Public Administration in Theory and Practice
Guidelines for Portfolio of Individually Written Assignments
v Giving you the opportunity to reinforce your learning and to make it more real and concrete, by applying concepts learned in class to your own management challenges and case studies in class.
v By receiving feedback on assignments and having a chance to revise them, charting your development during the class and serving as a guide for your continuing development.
v Serving as excellent practice for the type of rapid analysis and concise communication you will need for both the final examination and for the capstone project (and in fact in your further career development).
v Contributing to dynamic class culture and interaction through the use of IVLE.
There are four distinct assignments that are required, as follows:
Assignment #1: Personal challenge in public administration / management (upload to IVLE forum under “assignment #1” header by August 13 before class.
In one single-spaced page, describe a difficult professional challenge that you have faced or are facing in your professional context. The challenge you describe should have the following characteristics:
Ø It should be a problem that is difficult to solve – ideally, it has not yet been solved – for which the stakes are high, and for which there are many possible courses of action.
Ø It should be personally compelling to you – ideally, the kind of problem for which you are hoping to gain greater tools and perspective by coming to the MPA program.
Ø It will ideally be an issue in which you are (or were) personally involved; however, if you have difficulty identifying a topic, it can be one that you have observed from close quarters.
After describing the problem in terms that an outsider to that organization can understand, assess briefly what it is that makes the problem difficult to solve. Note that you are not being asked here to offer any solutions to the problem in this essay.
Assignment #2: Case study memo (due at beginning of class Monday, August 20)
Like assignment #3-4, this will be a short written analysis of a problem in one of the case studies discussed in class.
Assignment #3: Case study memo (timing will be announced)
Same as above; sometime around the middle of the term.
Assignment #4 Case study memo (likely to be sometime between weeks 9-11, to be announced in class)
Same as above. With the practice and feedback from the above, you should be seeing considerable improvement in your ability to rapidly diagnose problems and effectively communicate potential solutions in this memo.
Other IVLE contributions
In addition to the four written assignments above, you are encouraged to use the IVLE discussion forum to contribute your thoughts and opinions about the subjects covered in class and the readings. At least three kinds of entries to the IVLE forum can be made:
a) Various team materials that reflect your preparation for case discussion. For most case studies, you will be using your study teams to prepare responses to discussion questions. You should feel free to post these on the IVLE forum. They are not directly graded, but form a record of your team’s deliberations and ideas that can be valuable for yourself and others. You are of course also encouraged to read those of other teams before coming to class.
a) Weekly summary of “take away points”. At the end of most classes, I will give the class about 10 minutes to write down some important points, observations or questions you are taking away from each class. These can be written very informally in any form you like; for instance, a few bullet points are quite fine. Your summary can be useful to others and vice versa.
c) Anything else you wish to write. The forum is fundamentally for you, and you are free (but not required) to record any thoughts and reflections, particularly about the relevance of course materials to your own professional challenges, and to engage in IVLE dialogue with others on the forum.
In addition to submitting all the above (except the mid-term) on the IVLE at the prescribed times, you should keep a written print-out of everything you write – both the assignments and any IVLE contributions you make – in some kind of portfolio format that goes chronologically throughout the term. This helps emphasize your work as a cumulative record of your learning and reflections. It is this cumulative portfolio that you will submit at the end of the term and which will be graded.
For all of the assignments, you are invited to submit a new, revised version that incorporates your learning and feedback received. This should appear just after the assignment first submitted in the portfolio (note: you still have to include both the first version and the revised version in the portfolio), along with a brief summary of what changes you made (and why). Both versions will be considered when giving you the final grade for the portfolio at the end of the term – essentially, submission of a revised assignment is a sign of seriousness and effort that you put into learning.
PP5502 Public Administration in Theory and Practice
Guidelines for Group Field Project
v To gain further practice and aptitude in applying course frameworks to an extended real world example that demands considerable creativity, flexibility and diplomatic skills;
v To provide a significant challenge to teamwork (within the study teams);
v To learn from each other’s findings in the presentation at the end of the term; and
v To explore the Singaporean context of public administration.
v Identify an operational unit of an organization in the public sector in Singapore that will permit you to collect materials and interview some staff;
v gather a range of documentary analysis about the organization and conduct interviews with key staff; and
v use this to write an integrated analysis of the organization using concepts and frameworks from the class and readings.
Process and protocol
v You should choose an operational unit of the organization within the public sector (government agency or nonprofit organization), preferably with five to fifty or so employees (for example, a department rather than an entire organization). The organization may be formal (a school, public agency, etc) or informal (a club, voluntary organization, hospital waiting room etc.). You are highly discouraged from analyzing organizations for which you currently work or recently worked.
v Each group should assign one or two individuals who will be the key contact for logistical purposes with the organization you are studying. In this way, you can avoid having several students contacting the same organization for information. You will need to explain to people in the organization your interest in learning about their organization and challenges, and to ask for their help. In so doing, you should avoid the perception that you are providing a ‘consultancy’-type service to them, as the time will be too limited for this; however, you can note that you are willing to make a formal or informal presentation of your findings to them at a time of their convenience and that this could be of interest to them.
v Submit to my mailbox a list of two potential organizations which your team would like to study at the beginning of class on August 27. List them in order of preference. I and Genevieve will vet them and give you the green light for one of them, if appropriate.
v Submit a detailed outline of your analysis for review and feedback at the beginning of class on Monday September 10.
v The first full draft is due in my mailbox (hard copy) and to be uploaded to IVLE by 9 pm on November 12.
v On November 19, you will make a presentation to the class on your findings. This presentation will be about 20 minutes, and thus will not be able to encompass everything your group analyzed in the report. You will need to come up with a creative way of getting the main points across to your colleagues. The presentation will be judged on the following criteria: how well it captures the true essence of the organization, how creative it is, what it adds to the class’s learning, and what level of audience interest it is able to maintain. The presentation must actively involve each member of the team.
v On November 26, you may submit your revised (final) draft of the group report reflecting feedback received. Please summarize in a cover letter what changes you have made (if any).
Since you have obvious time constraints, you cannot (and are not expected to) do an extensive study. Instead, the purpose is to learn as much as you can about an organization in a relatively brief scouting expedition and to use frameworks presented in class to describe and interpret what you learn.
Your group’s product will be a report the main body of which should be about 10 single-spaced pages. You will need considerable flexibility in choosing the the type of analysis that fits your topic. The following is a recommendation and general advice on structure. Divide the report into five sections as follows:
1. Introduction: Description of setting, introduction of the major themes or central arguments of the report, and description of how the group conducted the study.
2. Analysis of mission, structure and stakeholders. Using the ‘clarity of purpose’ tools and questions in the Reinventor’s Feildbook, along with Dobbel and May’s “note on mapping”, examine issues surrounding the mission of the unit and the organization. There are a number of potentially interesting questions, among them:
How the unit you are analyzing contributes to the overall mission of the organization? How is the structure of the organization and unit reflects the purpose
Explore any ambiguities, conflicts or issues of prioritization in this mission or set of activities. How are these related to different stakeholders in the environment?
Have there ever been any attempts to shift the focus of the organization? If so, how did such an attempt arise, and what were the outcomes (if completed)? etc…
3. Analysis of one of the following: incentives, accountability, organizational decision-making or culture. These correspond to the ‘consequences, customer, control and culture’ strategies in Osborne and Plastrik. The suggestion is that you are only likely to be able to achieve sufficient depth in your analysis by focusing on one of these – most relevant or interesting or problematic for the organization you have selected. Using the set of questions and issues addressed around these issues in the Osborne and Plastrik framework, look for strengths and weaknesses in the organization. How do the characteristics you describe help describe the performance of the organization?
4. Problem or opportunity for the organization. Using the analysis you have already done, and whatever other frameworks you find useful, diagnose the situation confronting the organization and suggest changes through which the organization might address that problem or opportunity. Describe in some detail the steps you would take, the anticipated results, and what the overall effect might be.
5. Conclusion: Synthesis of findings and recommendations for organizational change. This portion of your report is very important in helping the reader to understand the essential argument of the team, and its strength and validity.
PP5502 Public Administration in Theory and Practice
Guidelines for the Assessment of Class Participation
Student participation is a major component – 20% -- of the overall grade for the course. The rationale for this weight given is that much of the learning that takes place in the class will be through interaction with your colleagues in the class, and most of the exercises in the class will be successful to the extent that we all mutually hold each other accountable for informed, active engagement.
As noted above, the guiding theme of this component of the grade is “contribution to mutual learning” – it is not a function of how much one speaks out in class (some people naturally speak out less, others more) but rather the quality of your participation in and out of the classroom.
This will be measured in several ways to come to an overall assessment, which will be made at the end of the course, including:
1. Participation assessment survey. First, at the end of the course I will distribute a survey form which will be confidential (you submit it directly to me and other students will not see your response) but not anonymous (you will write your name on it). This form will ask you a few questions. First, you will be given a list of all the students in the course (your section) to single out those who have contributed the most to your own learning over this course, through in-class and out-of-class interactions (including IVLE).
This form will also ask you to assess the quality of participation of your fellow team members. You will make note of the contributions of different team members to the effectiveness of the team, and can single out anyone who carried more than their ‘fair share’ of the work load.
Finally, on this form, you will be able to provide a self-assessment of your own participation in the course.
2. IVLE contributions. I will review the quality and quantity of your IVLE contributions and engagement at the end of the course. This is another indicator of participation. If you are the type who doesn’t like to speak out a lot in class, this is another good way to get involved.
3. Direct observation. Of course, I will be constantly observing class dynamics as well as an input to this assessment.
In the end, all of these will be synthesized by me to come to an overall grade for this component of the course. A grade will only be given at the end of the course.