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 complete their degree. This is done by either writing an MPS paper or by completing a series of comprehensive assessment exams. If an MPS paper is chosen, this course will offer the opportunity to develop the idea and outline for their master's paper and also begin the literature review and possibly the methodology for this paper. Typically, it will take two or three consecutive semesters to complete an MPS paper, including this semester for CEDEV 580. Students are expected to enroll in at least one credit of CEDEV 596 for the subsequent semesters.

If the student chooses to complete the MPS paper, they may draw upon materials from classes, but the idea is for the student to identify a topic on which they want to gain additional knowledge and expertise, or an original project that will enable them to move an interest area, work- or volunteer-related project toward completion. The CEDEV 580 course is organized into five phases:

  • Week 1: Introduction
  • Week 2: Plagiarism & Human Subjects Protection
  • Weeks 3–4: Developing Your Topic/Beginning Comprehensive Assessment Exam Track
  • Weeks 5–10: Preparing the Literature Review
  • Weeks 11+: Planning to Finish Your MPS Paper (weeks 11 and 12 for Summer or 11 through 14 for Spring/Fall)

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. In addition, there are opportunities for you to interact with others in the class. Students choosing the MPS option will generally progress through this course at different paces following completion of the fourth week. Students choosing the Comprehensive Assessment Exam option will work at a more structured pace, providing detailed essay responses to several exam questions throughout the course. They will not be required to complete the assignments related to the MPS option following Week Two.

Course Objectives

This course has different objectives for the MPS Paper option and the Comprehensive Assessment Exam option.

MPS Paper Option Objectives 

After completing this course, you will:

  • 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.
  • 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
  • Understand how to develop critical reviews of the literature.
  • Develop an acceptable final paper outline.
  • Develop a plan to carry out research or analysis appropriate for the MPS paper.
  • Organize findings and the plan to write an acceptable MPS paper.
  • When possible, facilitate the learning of your fellow students by reading and offering suggestions on drafts of their writing.
  • Have identified and established the three-person faculty committee that will work with you to complete your MPS paper, and will serve as the review committee that will make suggestions for revisions and has the authority to approve/request revisions or reject the MPS paper.

Comprehensive Assessment Exam option

After completing this course, you will:

  • Have the knowledge and skills to complete six comprehensive questions. You will complete three of them throughout this course.
  • 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
  • Plan out the procedure for completing the rest of the comprehensive exam questions in the CEDEV596 course.

Course Schedule

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

Course Requirements

Each student will be expected to make significant progress on or, if this course has been taken before, to complete their MPS paper for the MPS in community and economic development. Most students take this course more than once. The MPS paper is more in-depth than a class paper. It requires a clear problem statement and justification, a more substantial literature review and can involve data collection and analysis, and must include implications of the work for practice or policy.

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 or not the final paper is completed.

Introduction and Developing Your Topic (Weeks 1–4)

Weeks 1 and 2: Introduction and Overview, Plagiarism and Research Protections


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

In Weeks 2 through 4, we will focus our attention on reading about the types and components of MPS papers and reviewing materials about fair use of others' work (plagiarism) and human subject's protection. Most importantly, you will begin to formulate the topic and justification for the topic you plan to address for your MPS paper. This includes thinking about how to frame the topic in a way that facilitates the process of identifying and reviewing relevant literature and developing strategies to write the paper.

As you proceed through the first few steps, consider topics of interest to you for your paper. Whether you have already identified your topic or are just deciding, consider the following:

  • Why it is important?
  • What we will learn related to community and economic development as a result of the work you will do in completing the paper?

Most important throughout this course is to recall that all aspects of writing, from describing the problem to the literature review to the conclusions section are hard work and require dedication and steady effort. Obtaining comments from others and revising your writing strengthen the presentation of your ideas and eliminate gaps in logic or understanding. Expect to be asked to revise the sections of the paper, most likely, several times. This will be expected in this course and by your MPS faculty committee. Multiple revisions generally occur before the final MPS paper is accepted by your faculty committee. Faculty committee review most often occurs after you have completed both CEDEV 580 and often one CEDEV 596.

As will be noted in the readings for Weeks 2 through 4, staying focused will be much easier if you are able to frame your paper in terms of a question or questions you hope to answer. Be sure to communicate early and regularly with the course coordinator about the requirements for your paper. The most common difficulty students have in this course is identifying a paper topic that is manageable. We can help you with finding the right balance. If you have not identified a faculty adviser, the course coordinator will work with you to identify an appropriate faculty adviser once you have identified a topic for your MPS paper.

Required Readings

Turabian. 2013:

Overview, pp. 3-4; Chapter 1, pp. 5-11. "What research is and how researchers think about it."

If you have time, it will be very helpful to skim through Chapters 2 through 12 and 15, so you have a sense of the entire process of preparing the paper

Read through the information on the following websites (within the course content):

  • Guidelines for Preparing the Community and Economic Development Paper/Project Report
  • CITI Training on the Protection of Human Research Participants
  • Resource on Plagiarism

Weeks 3 and 4: Developing Your MPS Paper Topic


The most important step in completing your MPS paper is begun--selecting the topic. In this instance, you want a topic that you find interesting and relevant to community and economic development, so interesting that you are willing to devote hours of work to learning about, understanding, and writing about it.

The topic should be neither too broad, nor too narrow. In order to focus your paper, it is important to be able to identify or state a question that your paper will address. You need to be able to clearly state:

  1. What is the question or issue?
  2. Why do you want to examine this topic?
  3. What will be learned related to community and economic development from your paper?
  4. Why should it matter to others?

Required Readings

Turabian. 2013:

Chapter 2, pp. 12-23. "Moving from a Topic to a Question to a Working Hypothesis."

Chapter 6, pp. 62-70 "Planning a First Draft."

Preparing the Literature Review (Weeks 5–10)

Week 5: Reviewing the Literature—Introduction


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 that knowledge and understanding is through reading and evaluating the literature related to a topic.

Many of the topics you will address in your papers will be applied in nature, rather than focusing on conceptual or theoretical advances. Because of this, the literature you will need to examine will be broader. It includes articles published in peer-reviewed journals, books, and book chapters, but it also incorporates materials such as reports and evaluations of programs.

These reports, descriptions, and evaluations of programs may be found on websites of non-profit organizations, governments, or other agencies. Because the information available is potentially vast, identifying key concepts on which to search is essential to conducting a literature review that is complete and efficient. Most literature reviews are iterative, so be sure to read as you search, and search as you read.

Required Readings

Turabian. 2013:

Chapter 3, pp. 24-47 "Finding Useful Sources."

Chapter 4, pp. 36-47 "Engaging Sources."

Chapter 15, pp. 133-140 "General Introduction to Citation Practices."

Weeks 6–8: Searching for and Using Appropriate Literature


Once your topic has been refined and a sufficient number of descriptors and synonyms have been determined, you are ready to begin to search the literature. Remember that the search process is constantly being refined and updated. As you find references, you may discover the topic is too large or too small. You will also find other issues emerging that could redirect your goals for the paper.

Weeks 9 and 10: Organizing and Writing Your Literature Review


One of the more difficult tasks in preparing a paper is organizing the literature you have found so that it is most useful to you. As you read each article, report or book chapter, be sure to note the most important concepts and points. It also can be helpful to make notes to yourself about how and where (in what part of your paper) you would use the information.

Some literature provides important support for the question you are asking and it offers insight into a process or successful strategy. Because much of what you read is likely to contribute to your paper in multiple ways, it is important to be thinking early about the different parts of your paper.

The idea of developing a storyboard (described in Chapter 2), that provides a strategy to begin to organize ideas and related literature can be very helpful in sorting your notes and ideas so that they can be used effectively. Regardless of the topic of your paper, be thinking about the full paper (theory and key concepts, empirical studies that have been completed, how you plan to carry out your work) as you identify, read and organize the literature.

Required Readings

Turabian. 2013:

Chapter 5, pp. 48-61 "Planning Your Argument."

Chapter 6, pp. 62-70 "Planning a First Draft." (yes, again)

Planning to Finish Your MPS Paper

(Weeks 11 and 12 (Summer) or 11 to 14 (Fall and Spring))


The steps completed up until this point will have provided you with the outline to complete your MPS paper. These last weeks of the course should be spent expanding on your ideas for each section of the MPS paper so that you have a clear idea of your plan for completion.

Your MPS paper will likely require that you find, analyze and interpret empirical information about your topic that aids in understanding how the topic/issue applies in a particular setting or situation. This may be existing information or information that you collect yourself. Collecting your own data (e.g., conducting interviews, administering a survey) may take longer than using existing information/data (e.g., data from the U.S. Census of Population and Housing), so be sure to notify the course coordinator if this is your intent. Please be in contact with your adviser and the course coordinator as you plan for these final weeks of the course. Your course coordinator and faculty adviser will comment on drafts of sections of your paper as you work on them. Don't feel that you have to have complete and totally polished versions before sending them for comment/review. If you are not sure how to proceed with your paper, the best thing you can do is to contact the course coordinator or your faculty adviser for assistance.

Required Readings

Turabian. 2013:

  • Chapter 7, pp. 71-81 "Drafting Your Report."
  • Chapter 8, pp. 82-97 "Presenting Evidence in Tables and Figures."
  • Chapter 9, pp. 98-101 "Revising Your Draft."
  • Chapter 10, pp. 102-108 "Writing Your Final Introduction and Conclusion."
  • Chapter 11, pp. 109-119 "Revising Sentences." And Chapter 12, pp. 120-121 "Learning from Your Returned Paper."

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.


ISBN: 978-0226430577
Turabian, K. L. (2018). A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations. (W. C. Booth, G. G. Colomb, J. M. Williams, J. Bizup, W. T. FitzGerald, & The University of Chicago Press Editorial Staff, Eds.) (9th ed.). University of Chicago Press.

For pricing and ordering information, please see the Barnes & Noble College website.

Materials will be available at Barnes & Noble College approximately three weeks before the course begins. It is very important that you purchase the correct materials. If your course requires one or more textbooks, you must have exactly the correct text required (edition and year).

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.

Using is a 24/7 tutoring service that provides students with assistance in coursework, test preparation, research, writing, and more for various subjects. The tutors are subject-matter experts, and each student will have personalized one-on-one sessions with them. Students can schedule their own tutoring appointments to engage in interactive sessions that include a whiteboard and chat feature. The service can be utilized on any device that has Internet access. Students are encouraged to use the service throughout the semester.

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.

Grading Criteria
Requirement Cumulative Point Value
Quizzes 290
Discussions 35
Assignments 40
TOTAL: 365
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 note that this Course Syllabus is subject to change. Students are responsible for abiding by such changes.