All course information is listed within this syllabus.

CEDEV 580: Research Application and Practice (3 credits). This course is designed to assist students working on the master's paper required for the MPS in Community and Economic Development (CEDEV).

Prerequisites: None


Instructor for CEDEV 580

Mary Kate Berardi
Assistant Teaching Professor

Department of Agricultural Economics, Sociology, and Education
302 Armsby Building
University Park, PA 16802

E-mail: Use Canvas Inbox

Course Overview

This course provides the opportunity for students in the Master of Professional Studies in Community and Economic Development (CEDEV) to begin the final steps for completing their degree. This is done by either completing a series of comprehensive assessment exams or writing an MPS paper. This course will inform the students about capstone options and prepare them to complete their degree through exploring a CEDEV topic more deeply. To complete assignments for this class, students may draw upon materials from previous classes, but the idea is for the student to identify a CEDEV topic on which they want to gain additional knowledge and expertise. 

The CEDEV 580 course is organized into five modules: 

Module 1 (Week 1): Introduction 

Module 2 (Weeks 2-3): Human Subjects Protection 

Module 3 (Week 4): Academic Integrity 

Module 4 (Weeks 5-11 (Fa and Sp); Weeks 5-10 (Sum)): Final CEDEV Presentations 

Module 5 (Weeks 12 – 15 (Sp and Fa); Weeks 11 – 12 (Sum)): Developing Your Capstone Project and Timeline 

This course is an asynchronous course. While you are part of a cohort taking it together, there will not be any live components to this course. There are opportunities for you to interact with others in the class, as well as regular (although flexible) due dates for assignments and a fixed start and end date for the course. You will also have opportunities to interact with the course instructor, including a planned meeting via Zoom or another video chat platform.  

Please note that students will not complete their capstones during this course. For the comprehensive exam option, it typically takes one additional semester to complete. For the MPS paper option, it will typically take two or three consecutive semesters to complete. Students are expected to enroll in at least one credit of CEDEV 596 for the subsequent semesters until their capstone has been defended and they are finished.  

Course Objectives

For all students in the course, the objectives are to: 

  1. Determine which capstone option to pursue in order to complete the MPS degree in CEDEV.  
  1. Create a presentation about a CEDEV topic of the student’s choosing that demonstrates the knowledge learned across the CEDEV program.  

Additionally, this course has different objectives for the Comprehensive Exam option and MPS Paper option: 

If you choose to complete the comprehensive exam option, after completing this course, you will: 

  1. Have the knowledge and skills to work with your advisor and the committee to complete comprehensive exam questions. 
  1. Demonstrate the main information sources for the areas related to topics in the comprehensive questions, including: 
  • Major journals, periodicals, books, and reports 
  • Proceedings from professional conferences or workshops 
  • Web-based resources 
  1. Plan out the procedure for completing the comprehensive exam questions in the CEDEV596 course. 

If you choose to complete the MPS Paper option, after completing this course, you will: 

  1. Have the knowledge and skills to write an original MPS paper based on appropriate literature and an analysis of existing data or data and information you collect on an issue or topic of your choosing (with guidance from the course coordinator and/or your MPS paper faculty adviser). The final document will be in the form of a master's paper. 
  1. Demonstrate an understanding of the main information sources for the areas related to your topic of interest, including; 
  • major journals, periodicals, books, and reports 
  • proceedings from professional conferences or workshops 
  • Web-based resources 
  1. Understand how to develop critical reviews of the literature. 
  1. Develop an acceptable final paper outline. 
  1. Develop a plan to carry out research or analysis appropriate for the MPS paper. 
  1. Organize findings and the plan to write an acceptable MPS paper. 
  1. When possible, facilitate the learning of your fellow students by reading and offering suggestions on drafts of their writing. 
  1. Have identified and established the three-person faculty committee that will work with you to complete your MPS paper and who will serve as the review committee that will make suggestions for revisions and have the authority to approve/request revisions or reject the MPS paper. 

Course Schedule

For due dates, refer to the Course Summary on the Syllabus page in Canvas.

Course Requirements

Each student will create a presentation about a topic in CEDEV.  

Each student will be expected to make progress on planning to complete their capstone projects, which should happen if they complete the assignments in the course. 

Students are encouraged to participate as a peer-reviewer for other students and to share their work with other students. 

Course grading is based on student progress during the course, not on whether the final capstone is completed. 

Module 1: Introduction (Week 1) 


We spend the first week of the course renewing our familiarity with the online environment and learning about the requirements for the capstone project. 

Required Readings 

Reading through the content of the CEDEV MPS Capstone Guidelines Document, will provide an understanding of the format and structure of the final capstone project.  

Module 2: Human Subjects Protection (Weeks 2-3) 


In this section of the course students will need to complete activities on working with human subjects. All graduate students are required to complete these activities, including completing the SARI and CITI courses and through them understanding the Institutional Review Board (IRB) process. If you conduct research involving any human participants, you must apply for IRB approval. The instructor of CEDEV580, the CDEV Program Coordinator, and your faculty advisor can help you with this process. This Module will help you get started in this process. You have two weeks to complete this Module because it has a lot of very important information, and the assignment is relatively large. 

Module 3: Academic Integrity (Week 4) 


In this section of the course students will need to complete activities on plagiarism and academic integrity. All graduate students are required to complete these activities. It is essential that students show that they understand the issue of plagiarism before they begin work on their capstone projects. 

Module 4: Final CEDEV Presentations (Weeks 5-11 (FA and SP); Weeks 5-10 (SU)) 


It is likely that during the course of your CEDEV work and/or your professional life, you have been exposed to a topic that really ignites your passion. As part of this course, and in preparation for your capstone projects, we are going to spend the next few weeks exploring a topic of your choosing and creating a 15-minute video presentation to upload and share with the class. The work in this module will include: 

  • Literature Review: New ideas and applications in community and economic development, or in any field, must be based on a firm knowledge and understanding of the work that has come before. The most common way to gain knowledge and understanding is through reading and evaluating the literature related to a topic. We will spend some time creating an annotated bibliography. 
  • 15-Minute Video Presentation: In this presentation you will introduce us to the foundations of your chosen topic from your literature review, and then present what you have found that is currently relevant to your topic. You will have the opportunity to formally peer review two of your classmates’ presentations and receive feedback from them as well.  

Module 5: Planning and Developing Your Capstone Project (Weeks 12 – 15 (SP and FA); Weeks 11 – 12 (SU)) 


We will spend the final weeks of this course setting you up for success in your capstone projects. The next few weeks will contain assignments that prepare you for your capstone, including: 

  • Developing your Capstone Topic: You are likely already thinking about this, as the topic you chose for your final presentation may be similar to what you intend to present to your committee for your capstone. We will spend some time developing this further so you have a strong foundation from which to launch your capstone project. You will create a 1-2 page summary to share with your committee to introduce yourself and your topic.  
  • Developing your Capstone Schedule: You will work with the course instructor to create a timeline for completion of your capstone project. 
  • Forming your Committee: If you choose the MPS paper option, you will work with the course instructor during this time to form your three person committee. If you choose the comprehensive examination option, the committee has already been formed by the CEDEV program.  

Course Materials

Most World Campus courses require that students purchase materials (e.g., textbooks, specific software, etc.). To learn about how to order materials, please see the Course Materials page. You should check the World Campus Course Catalog approximately 3–4 weeks before the course begins for a list of required materials.


No Book Required 

Human Subjects Review

Finally, if you are thinking about gathering your own information (e.g., interviews or surveys) or using existing data sources (e.g., U.S. Census, Bureau of Labor Statistics data) you must complete the Research with Human Subjects Review Process.

Grading Policy

In this course you will be graded on the progress you make toward completing your MPS paper. As indicated earlier, most people are not able to complete the MPS paper in one semester when they take CEDEV 580.

I will grade written assignments within one week. If this is not possible for any reason, I will let you know.

The following table is the grading criteria for the course.

Grading Criteria
Requirement Cumulative Point Value
Discussions 110
Assignments 200
TOTAL: 310

The following table is the grading scheme for the course.

Grading Scheme
Letter Grade Percentage
A 100% – 94%
A- < 94% – 90%
B+ < 90% – 87%
B < 87% – 84%
B- < 84% – 80%
C+ < 80% – 77%
C < 77% – 70%
D < 70% – 60%
F < 60%

Please refer to the University Grading Policy for Graduate Courses for additional information.

NOTE: If you are planning to graduate this semester, please communicate your intent to graduate to your instructor. This will alert your instructor to the need to submit your final grade in time to meet the published graduation deadlines. For more information about graduation policies and deadlines, please see "Graduation" under World Campus Student Resources.

Online Students Use of the Library

As Penn State World Campus students, you have access to many of the materials that the library offers to students. The library website has a lot to offer, but can be overwhelming. A guide has been created to serve as your introduction to important library resources, services, and important pages within the library. The Online Student Library Guide is updated regularly by the online librarian and is intended to provide a level of comfort through an introduction to help you feel comfortable navigating the library website to find valuable information for your coursework.

And, we will be examining information on the correct use and citing of others' work so that plagiarism and how to avoid plagiarizing others' work is well understood.

NOTE: You must have an active Penn State Access Account and be registered with the University Libraries in order to take full advantage of the Libraries' resources and services. Registration and services are free while you are registered for a Penn State course! You must have an active Penn State Access Account to submit materials to the Office of Research Protections. If you are off-campus--as most of you are--you will need to access the Protocol, Review, Approval and Management System (PRAMS) to submit human subjects materials through a secure VPN client. Instructions for doing this are provided on the web page. Be forewarned that many employers and some internet cafes do not allow the installation of a VPN client through their systems.

Technical Requirements

This course is offered online and it is assumed you possess the minimum system requirements and computing skills to participate effectively. A list of technical requirements is listed on World Campus' Penn State Technical Requirements page.

Minimum Skills

  • You should have an understanding of basic computer usage (creating folders/directories, switching between programs, formatting and backing up media, accessing the internet).
  • You must be able to conduct word processing tasks such as creating, editing, saving, and retrieving documents.
  • You must be able to use a web browser to open web pages, download files, and search the internet.
  • You must be able to use an e-mail program to send and receive messages and to attach and download documents/files.
  • You must be able to download and install programs or plug-ins from the internet.

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Accessibility Information


The term "Netiquette" refers to the etiquette guidelines for electronic communications, such as e-mail and discussion postings. Netiquette covers not only rules to maintain civility in discussions, but also special guidelines unique to the electronic nature of messages. Please review Virginia Shea's " The Core Rules of Netiquette " for general guidelines that should be followed when communicating in this course.

Penn State Policies

Login Policy

Students are expected to log in regularly to keep up to date with announcements, discussions, etc. The class will progress at a regular pace throughout the semester and there are specific due dates and times for assignments, etc.

Course Availability

Your course will be available to you beginning the first day of class and will remain open for one year. After one year the course will close.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is the pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest, and responsible manner. Academic integrity is a basic guiding principle for all academic activity at The Pennsylvania State University, and all members of the University community are expected to act in accordance with this principle. Consistent with this expectation, students should act with personal integrity, respect other students' dignity, rights, and property, and help create and maintain an environment in which all can succeed through the fruits of their efforts. Academic integrity includes a commitment not to engage in or tolerate acts of falsification, misrepresentation, or deception. Such acts of dishonesty violate the fundamental ethical principles of the University community and compromise the worth of work completed by others (see Faculty Senate Policy 49-20, G-9 Procedures, and the Code of Conduct ).

Please read the academic integrity guidelines for the College of Agricultural Sciences.

A lack of knowledge or understanding of the University's academic integrity policy and the types of actions it prohibits and/or requires does not excuse one from complying with the policy. Penn State and the College of Agricultural Sciences take violations of academic integrity very seriously. Faculty, alumni, staff, and fellow students expect each student to uphold the University's standards of academic integrity both inside and outside of the classroom.

Educational Equity Statement

Penn State takes great pride to foster a diverse and inclusive environment for students, faculty, and staff. Acts of intolerance, discrimination, or harassment due to age, ancestry, color, disability, gender, gender identity, national origin, race, religious belief, sexual orientation, or veteran status are not tolerated and can be reported through Educational Equity at the Report Bias page.

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For information about Penn State's privacy statement and what it encompasses, please read their Web Privacy Statement. Visit Penn State's FERPA Guidelines for Faculty and Staff page for information regarding its rules governing the privacy of student educational records.

Copyright Notice

All course materials students receive or to which students have online access are protected by copyright laws. Students may use course materials and make copies for their own use as needed, but unauthorized distribution and/or uploading of materials without the instructor's express permission is strictly prohibited. University Policy AD40, Recording of Classroom Activities and Note-Taking Services, addresses this issue. Students who engage in the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials may be held in violation of the University's Code of Conduct, and/or liable under federal and state laws.

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)

Many students at Penn State face personal challenges or have psychological needs that may interfere with their academic progress, social development, or emotional well-being. The University offers a variety of confidential services to help you through difficult times, including individual and group counseling, crisis intervention, consultations, online chats, and mental health screenings. These services are provided by staff who welcome all students and embrace a philosophy respectful of clients' cultural and religious backgrounds, and sensitive to differences in race, ability, gender identity, and sexual orientation.

Accommodations for Persons With Disabilities

Penn State welcomes students with disabilities into the University's educational programs. Every Penn State campus has an office for students with disabilities. The Student Disability Resources website provides contact information for every Penn State campus. For further information, please visit the Student Disability Resources page.

In order to receive consideration for reasonable accommodations, you must contact the appropriate disability services office at the campus where you are officially enrolled, participate in an intake interview, and provide documentation. If the documentation supports your request for reasonable accommodations, your campus' disability services office will provide you with an accommodation letter. Please share this letter with your instructors and discuss the accommodations with them as early in your courses as possible. You must follow this process for every semester that you request accommodations.

Accommodations for Military Personnel

Veterans and currently serving military personnel and/or spouses with unique circumstances (e.g., upcoming deployments, drill/duty requirements, disabilities, VA appointments, etc.) are welcome and encouraged to communicate these, in advance if possible, to the instructor in the case that special arrangements need to be made.

Use of Trade Names

Where trade names are used, no discrimination is intended and no endorsement by World Campus, Outreach and Cooperative Extension, the College of Agricultural Sciences, or The Pennsylvania State University is implied.

Subject to Change Statement

Please note that this Course Syllabus is subject to change. Students are responsible for abiding by such changes.

Course Availability

If you're ready to see when your courses will be offered, visit our public LionPATH course search to start planning ahead.

Course Availability

If you're ready to see when your courses will be offered, visit our public LionPATH course search to start planning ahead.