Posted: June 1st, 2015

Examine social and educational thought about the goals, purposes, and methods of schooling to federal, state, and local policy initiatives

EDUC 5317
Instructional Contact Hours/Credits
Lecture – 45 Clock Hours / 3 Semester Credits
Catalog Course Description
This course provides an introduction to the field of educational politics with special emphasis on theoretical and conceptual analysis of the political behavior of education’s stakeholders and the policy performance of educational systems.
Course Rationale
•    Schools are increasingly impacted by policy research; therefore, educational leaders need to develop conceptual knowledge and skills in analyzing, exploring, thinking about, and acting on the societal and organizational forces that influence educational policy and decision making at all levels of the educational system, as well as within different organizational settings.
•    Effective school leaders are able to analyze, synthesize, and apply research and theory, derived from the political and social sciences, educational politics and policy-making literature, to problems associated with positions they either currently occupy or aspire to hold.
•    By combining theoretical and research contributions with personal resources, experiences, and the problem solving capacities of students enrolled in this class, each class participant will increase his/her capability to deal with uncertainty, instability, uniqueness and value conflicts inherent in problem solving situations.
Course Structure
Delivery Method
This course will be delivered online through NAU’s Moodle course management system at (NAU Online) for asynchronous activities and through the web conferencing system GoToMeeting for synchronous activites. To access this course, you will need access to the Internet and a supported Web browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari or Chrome). Students are required to login to NAU Online by using their computer accounts provided by the IT department.
In NAU Online, students will be able to access online lessons, course materials, and resources. Activities may consist of chat, blogs, discussion forums, assignment submission, quizzes, email, journaling, blogging, wikis, and web posting.
In this online course, students are expected to follow Netiquette rules ( as the majority of the communication takes place in the course forums visible to all.
For login issues and account problems with Moodle, please contact with Distance Education Support via one of the following methods:

For hardware and software problems other than Moodle system, please contact with IT Department with one of the following methods:

Technical Requirements

To access this course, you will need access to the Internet and a supported Web browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari or Chrome). For detailed hardware and software requirements, please visit following website:

Learning Objectives/Outcomes

On completion of this course, each student should be able to:

•    Demonstrate an understanding of the nature of policymaking and the education policy system
•    Apply conceptual frameworks for looking at educational policy research
•    Apply conceptual and political frameworks and theories to evaluate policy issues in a work setting or institutional environment
•    Develop and critique policy proposals with an understanding of the education system and the nature of policy problems
•    Critique policies and their implementation
•    Examine social and educational thought about the goals, purposes, and methods of schooling to federal, state, and local policy initiatives, and explore how politics, social conditions, educational philosophies, and research frame these initiatives
Instructional Materials and References
Text: Heck, R. H. (2004). Studying Educational and Social Policy: Theoretical Concepts and Research, Methods. Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.

Additional Reading: Assigned weekly from selected books, journals and publications. Will be listed in the online classroom.


Technology issues cannot be used as a reason for late assignments. You must have back-up plans for technology issues, such as technical problems with your computer, Internet server provider problems, etc. For whatever reason, if you cannot submit your assignments or complete the participation requirement from your computer, then you should have another computer that you may use in these cases. Examples would be using a computer at your school, at a relative’s or friend’s house, or at the library.

Online Participation In The Course
Students in this online course are required to actively participate in online course activities through following activities:
1-Students should login at least 3 times on 3 separate days per week to Moodle system and work on class activities.
2- Students should participate in the Weekly Webinar
3- Student should complete online discussion activities.

Weekly Webinars
Webinar participation is a mandatory component of this course. Webinar Participation will be graded. Students are required to actively participate. Webinars will be recorded and later be posted to Moodle. During the webinar, the instructor may:
•    be available to answer questions
•    present information on the current week’s assignments
•    review discussion postings
•    conduct a lecture
Webinars may last between 30-90 minutes. A link to the webinar will be available in the course announcements in Moodle.  A webinar schedule will be posted in Moodle during week 1.
Written forum responses:
Each week, you will be responsible for composing an original response to 1 discussion question posted in the online classroom and making substantive comments on at least 2 of your classmates postings for the week . Your original responses should be no less than 100 words in length, with properly cited sources using APA format. The grading rubric is available online.
This is a study intensive course and each student is expected to participate by completing all reading and written assignments on time as well as actively engage in online discussions.
Please try to post your initial thought provoking response (Main Post, 3 points) to the instructor’s question/s or prompts by Wednesday of the week and respond to at least two of your classmate’s postings (1 point each) by Saturday at 12:00 noon of each week.
Remember, responses that are thoughtful, insightful and supported by experiences, examples or sources will be considered as quality responses and will receive credit.  The more you involve yourself in the conversation, the better your grade is likely to be.
Responding to your classmate’s postings can be done by relating real world experiences to the discussions or building on other’s comments with alternative solutions; pointing out problems or adding another dimension to the discussion.  “I agree” or “yes/no” will not be considered as quality responses and will receive no credit.  Make sure you share your thoughts and experiences.

Individual Policy Analysis Assignment

Students will write one policy research paper, using APA format, (approximately 4-6 pages, excluding title, references, and appendices) that includes both a political analysis and policy analysis of a policy. This paper is not intended to be a programmatic evaluation. This paper offers an opportunity for students to apply course concepts and theoretical frameworks to a policy issue of interest. Relevant literature and data should be used to support your analysis. To facilitate the paper writing process, the following benchmarks have been established:

1) Policy identification: Students are to submit a paragraph no later than May 31 that describes the policy and briefly explains, a) the specific problem it is intended to address, and 2) the rationale for choosing this policy. From Heck (2004), introduction,
“Finding a policy problem to research is a highly individual endeavor. I have observed that for some students, it is easy. Others struggle with where to “find” one. Potential research problems can be found in a variety of places – from personal interest and experience, the workplace, academic journals, grant opportunities from governmental and private funding agencies, as well as in the unfolding news stories that are covered in professional newspapers. Problems may be ideas we have carried with us over the years. In other cases, the ‘light just goes on,’ and one may get an idea for a research study out of something that was covered in the media, or a problem that presents itself for the first time during the course of a conversation” (p. xxii).

2) DRAFT Outline and Literature review: A topical outline and annotated bibliography suggesting the literature that will be used to investigate the policy is due no later than June 8. The intent is to provide an opportunity for students to show progress so there is no required page count. It is assumed that this initial review of the literature will be incomplete. Heck suggests starting your literature review search in the last five years of the Current Index to Journals in Education (CIJE) and the annual meeting programs for the American Educational Research Association (AERA).

3) Final papers are due by, 11:00 PM Central time, June 12.

The paper should define the selected policy and provide a historical context of the policy. It should include an analysis of the how and why this policy was proposed, adopted, and implemented. Students should analyze issues surrounding the policy by applying two policy concepts, frameworks, or theories/theoretical perspectives, such as:

•Political culture and values
• Interest groups
• Conflict and power
• Federalism
• Educational reform and change
• Political systems
• Rational choice theory
• Critical theory
• Institutional theory
• Democratic theory

The analysis should discuss evidence of the policy’s impact. The conclusion of the paper should include a brief discussion of changes in the political environment that have affected the policy’s prominence on the educational political agenda and the future of this policy based on a concept, framework, or theory/theoretical perspective. Please refer to the list of examples above. The same concept/framework/theory/theoretical perspective may be applied or an alternative applied in the conclusion.

Group Writing Assignment:
Examining the Policy Making Process for a Particular Education Policy

Working in groups of 2-4, you will choose a policy or a single policy component of a comprehensive state or federal law (like No Child Left Behind or IDEA). Due no later than 12:00 PM (Noon) Central Time, Friday, June 19, 2015.

Using APA format, write a paper of 6-8 pages of text excluding title, references, and appendices in which you:

1) Identify and describe the policy you are examining in depth.
2) Briefly summarize key details about how the policy came to be (how did it get on the agenda, who championed it, was there a window, what political compromises were made, etc.) and if it is still in place
3) Identify what this policy is/was supposed to do (its intended goal or goals)
4) Identify how this policy is/was supposed to accomplish the goals or who/what entity was responsible for implementing the policy.
5) Summarize the evidence available regarding whether the policy “worked”
(Review at least 5 research articles on the topic. Not all research studies are created equal however. So don’t just go for the first five you find. Try to locate the “big” evaluation study/ies that are commonly cited for this topic).
6) On the basis of this evidence, propose a change that will either make the policy more
successful in attaining its goals or move the policy in a direction of a new and better goal.

Possible Policies Include:
• Class Size Reduction Policies
• School Voucher Policies or Lottery Choice Programs
• Accountability Policies (like NCLB, but select some aspect to examine)
• Student Retention (vs. Social Promotion) Policies
• Teacher Certification Policies (requiring an MA, Student Teaching, etc.)
• Teacher Merit Pay Policies
• Universal Pre-K Policies
• Bilingual Education Policies (like limiting the number of years a student can be in bilingual education)
• Student Assignment Policies to Foster Integration (see Seattle or Louisville)

Group Presentation

Prepare a narrated PowerPoint presentation (7-10 minutes in length) which summarizes your group’s writing assignment. More details to be provided in the online classroom. Other formats are acceptable if preapproved. Due no later than 12:00 PM (Noon) Central Time, Friday, June 19, 2015.

Topical Outline of the Course

Given the assignments of this course, students will demonstrate, in a variety of formats, knowledge and comprehension of each of the following topics as well as the ability to apply that knowledge to analysis of educational programs and policies.

1.    An Overview of the Policy Process
a.    Policymaking and Its Study
b.    Federalism and Policymaking
c.    Studying Policy Development, Implementation and Impact
2.    Conceptual Frameworks and Theories
a.    Political Culture and Policy making
b.    Punctuated Equilibrium Theory and the Advocacy Coalition Framework
c.    Economic and Organizational Perspectives
d.    New Approaches to Policymaking
3.    Policy Research Methods
a.    Qualitative Methods
b.    Multilevel Methods
c.    Growth Modeling Methods

Instructional Methods
This course is an online course.

Assessment Criteria and Methods of Evaluating Students
Students will be evaluated and grades calculated based on the following:
•    Class Participation (Total: 24 points)
o    Discussion posting (2 points per week for original post; 2 points per week for peer response)
o    Webinar participation (2 points per week)
•    Individual Policy Analysis Assignment (40 points)
•    Group Policy Analysis Paper (30 points)
•    Group Presentation (6 points)

Academic Honesty:
Each student assumes the responsibilities of being a member of the NAU academic community.  All acts of plagiarism are not tolerated including: cheating, claiming one’s work as their own, fabrication and helping one to commit any of these acts.  Any violations of academic honesty will receive strict disciplinary action, which can include suspension and even expulsion from NAU.

Homework Expectation
Students are expected to spend approximately 22 hours a week, on average, completing homework assignments in order to achieve the learning objectives for this 4 week (45 contact hr) lecture course. This meets the Federal Government’s expectation of two hours of homework for each hour of lecture.
Additional Resources

Services for Individuals with Disabilities

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal anti-discrimination stat ute that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. Among other things, this legislation requires that all students with disabilities be guaranteed a learning environment that provides for reasonable accommodation of their disabilities.

North American University is committed to providing equal educational opportunities and full participation for students with disabilities. Reasonable accommodations can be arranged enabling students with qualified disabilities to participate in and benefit from all educational programs and activities here at North American University. This also applies to their academic classes. If you believe you have a disability requiring an accommodation, please contact contact the Dean of Students in the Student Services Office at (832) 230- 5551 by the third week of the beginning of each semester. Students must present a formal document stating that you are an individual student with disabilities and signed by your physician.

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