All course information is listed within the syllabus.

CEDEV 575: Methods and Techniques for Community and Economic Development (3 credits). Understanding and applying methods and hands-on experience with techniques used in community and economic development.

Prerequisite: Graduate standing and approval of the instructor


Instructor for CEDEV 575.

Justine Lindemann 
Assistant Professor in Community Development and Resilience
of Agricultural Economics, Sociology, and Education

Phone (Office): 814-863-8646 
E-mail: Use Canvas Inbox

I will do my best to respond to your e-mails (use Canvas Inbox) within 24 to 48 hours, and I will let you know if I'm going to be unavailable for any length of time.

Course Overview

This course provides you with an introduction to some of the key research methods and techniques used by community development professionals and researchers. The course is designed to give you an opportunity to think and write about issues you will face in conducting research as a community development professional. It will also provide you with experience conducting research in real-world settings. As such, the assignments will force you to consider the trade-offs and tough decisions that face professionals working in situations marked by power differentials, conflicting agendas, and time and resource constraints.

CEDEV 575 is taught over a 15-week period. Most modules are one week in length, but a few spans two weeks. Along the way, there will be several short written assignments that will give you the opportunity to express your opinions and demonstrate your mastery of the subject matter. At the end of the course, each student has the option to either design a research proposal to examine an important issue in his or her community or carry out an analysis of an important community issue or problem. We will discuss these options in more detail as the semester progresses.

Although this is an electronic course, there will be plenty of opportunities to interact with your fellow students through weekly discussion forums. For each weekly forum, I will post a question (or questions) designed to generate discussion among all of us. I will monitor the forum closely and respond to as many posts as possible. For the forums to be successful, it is important that you participate early and often. DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE END OF THE MODULE TO POST A MESSAGE.

Course Objectives

By the end of CEDEV 575 you should be able to:

  • Identify primary and secondary sources of data that are appropriate for analyzing different community development issues and problems
  • Describe the strengths and weaknesses of different types of primary and secondary data
  • Apply qualitative and quantitative techniques for analyzing community and economic development
  • Explain the strengths and weaknesses of different techniques for analyzing community and economic development
  • Identify the ethical issues involved in community and economic development research
  • Analyze local power structures and articulate the role they play in community and economic development
  • Critically assess key tools for understanding linkages in local economic structure
  • Develop a grant proposal that is suitable for submission to a funding agency
  • Design a project that will analyze an important community or economic development issue in a community of your choosing

Course Schedule

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

Course Outline

Module 1: Understanding Community in Community Development

Module 2: Research Basics in the Social Sciences

    Module 3: Developing a Community Profile

    Module 4: Appraisals, Approaches, and Techniques

       Module 5: Research Ethics

      Module 6: Gathering Qualitative Data

      Module 7: Analyzing Community Power Structures

      Module 8: Gathering Quantitative Data and Use of Survey Techniques

        Module 9: Case Study Research

        Module 10: Community Needs Assessment

         Module 11: Disseminating Research Findings

        Module 12: Grant Writing

        Module 13: Final Project

        Course Materials


        This course requires that you access Penn State library materials specifically reserved for this course. You can access these materials by selecting Library Resources in the Course Navigation Menu, or by accessing the Library E-Reserves Search and searching for your instructor's last name.

        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!

        Recommended, but not required, readings that are not in the E-Reserves can be found on a module's Overview page.

        The following book on questionnaire design is also recommended but not required:

        • Salant, P., & Dillman, D. A. (1994). How to Conduct Your Own Survey (1st ed.). Wiley.


        The turnaround time for graded assignments is generally one week or less.


        Each student is required to complete the class exercises that are assigned in the course. The exercises are particularly important--they allow students the opportunity to experiment with and use the tools and techniques presented in the course. The exercises will contribute 50% of the grade for the course.

        Discussions/Class Participation

        Class participation is expected and is essential to the course. At various points in the course, we will share with classmates the material that we have developed. Engagement in class discussions related to these materials is critical. The discussions for the class are 25% of the final grade.

        Final Project

        A final project is required for the course. The project involves design of an approach to analyze a community social or economic issue. The project requires a project proposal submitted for instructor feedback prior to beginning the project. The grade on the final project constitutes 25% of the course grade. There is no final exam for the course.

        Missed Modules and Late Work

        Students are expected to turn work in on the dates announced in the course. However, we realize that most of you are working professionals and will on occasion have to do something that will keep you from completing module work on time. If you have a conflict for work, travel, or family, please notify your instructors as soon as you can BEFORE your scheduled conflict. We are willing to work with you, but you have to work with us too! Likewise, this is a privilege and not a right—if we feel you are abusing this privilege, we have the option of not accepting your work for that module or modules.

        Grading Policy

        The following table is the grading criteria for the course.

        Grading Criteria
        Requirement Cumulative Point Value Weight
        Exercises 50 50%
        Discussions 22 25%
        Final Project 28 25%
        TOTAL: 100 100%

        The following table is the grading scheme for the course.

        Grading Scheme
        Letter Grade Percentage
        A 100% – 95%
        A- < 95% – 90%
        B+ < 90% – 86.7%
        B < 86.7% – 83.4%
        B- < 83.4% – 80%
        C+ < 80% – 75%
        C < 75% – 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.

        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.

        Getting Help With Canvas Courses

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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

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

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        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

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        Subject to Change Statement

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

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