CEDEV 575 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.


Image of Amanda Smiling While Standing Outside

Dr. Amanda Hope

  • Please use the Canvas Inbox for course-related questions.
  • Phone conference at request.

I will do my best to respond to your e-mails (use Canvas Inbox) within 24 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 16 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 Outline

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

Required Course Materials

  • The course uses a set of required readings that you will find on reserve in from the Penn State Library. All E-Reserves can be accessed through the Library Resources link on the left Navigation Menu in Canvas.
    • 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!
  • Readings that are not in the E-Reserves and are recommended, but not required can be found on the Course Home page. 
  • The following book on questionnaire design is also recommended but not required:
    • Salant, Priscilla and Don Dillman. 1994. "How to Conduct Your Own Survey". New York: Wiley.

Assignments and Grading

Grading Element

Grading ElementPercent of Total Grade
Exercises 50
Discussions (Class Participation) 25
Final Project 25

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

Exercises: 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.

Grading Scale

Letter GradePoints
A 95.0–100
A- 90–94.9
B+ 86.7–89.9
B 83.4–86.6
B- 80.0–83.3
C+ 75.0–79.9
C 70.0–74.9
D 60.0–69.9
F 0–59.9

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

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.

Technical Requirements

This course is offered online and it assumed you possess the minimum system requirements and computing skills to participate effectively. A list of technical requirements is listed on the 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.

Accessibility Information

  • Accessibility statement for Canvas.


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

Support Services

As a World Campus student, you have access to a variety of services and resources, including advising, tutoring, library services, career services, and more. Please visit the World Campus Student Services page for more information.

If you experience technology problems of any kind in Canvas, please select the Help icon and select "Report a Canvas Problem," "Chat with Support," or "Call Support." It is in your own best interest to be as specific as you possibly can. Vague descriptions of a problem only delay assistance. Try to include information such as: the specific course page, quiz question, etc. you were on; what you attempted to do when that failed; the exact language of any error message displayed on your screen; the date and time when your problem occurred; and any other pertinent information (does the problem happen consistently and always in the same way, etc.).

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 introduction to help you feel comfortable navigating the library website to find valuable information for your coursework.

Penn State Policies

Log-In 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.

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).

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 webpage.

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 AD 40, the University Policy 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 interfere with their academic progress, social development, or emotional wellbeing. 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.

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)
Penn State Crisis Line (24 hours/7 days/week)
Crisis Text Line (24 hours/7 days/week)
Mental Health Services

(814) 863-0395
(877) 229-6400
Text LIONS to 741741

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 Web site provides contact information for every Penn State campus. For further information, please visit the Student Disability Resources Web site.

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's 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 the 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.