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
Coordinator, Community and Economic Development (CEDEV)

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.

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:

  • Determine which capstone option to pursue in order to complete the MPS degree in CEDEV.
  • 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.
  2. 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 CEDEV 596 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.
  2. 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.
  2. Develop an acceptable final paper outline.
  3. Develop a plan to carry out research or analysis appropriate for the MPS paper.
  4. Organize findings and the plan to write an acceptable MPS paper.
  5. When possible, facilitate the learning of your fellow students by reading and offering suggestions on drafts of their writing.
  6. 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)

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

Module 3: Academic Integrity (Week 4)

Module 4: Final CEDEV Professional Presentation (Weeks 5–11 (FA and SP); Weeks 5–10 (SU))

Module 5: Choosing Your Capstone Option, Introduction, Topic Summary, and Timeline (Weeks 11–15)

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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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.

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