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Spring 2012 - 62210 - PA397C - Advanced Empirical Methods for Policy Analysis

Public Program Evaluation

Instructor(s): Heinrich, Carolyn
Unique Number: 62210
Day & Time: T 9:00 - 12:00 pm
Room: SRH 3.122
Waitlist Information:For LBJ Students: UT Waitlist Information
Course Overview

In addition to the Introduction to Empirical Methods course in the common core, MPAff students are required to take another three-hour course in quantitative analysis, selected from among a set of courses focusing on the application of quantitative theory and techniques to policy analysis. Topics offered vary from year to year but include econometrics, demographic techniques, systems analysis, simulation modeling, and quantitative indicator methods. As the second course in the two-course MPAff quantitative sequence, this course is intended to provide students with an in-depth understanding and hands-on experience with a specific quantitative method useful in policy analysis. This course is usually taken during the second semester of the first year.

Section Description

The focus of this course is public program evaluation: the design and implementation of evaluations and the cutting-edge methods used to evaluate impacts of established programs or policies. As our capacities for data collection and storage have expanded and our tools for evaluation have advanced, the demands for program evaluation have grown exponentially. That said, the estimation of a policy or program’s impact—based on observation and measurement of the program over time, the careful construction of a counterfactual state (what would have happened in the absence of the program), and hypothesis testing and estimation using experimental or nonexperimental methods—is often a challenging process if done well. It is a goal of this course to expose you to “state of the art” methods in program evaluation and to provide you with an understanding of when and how they can be most usefully applied to produce knowledge and evidence of program effectiveness to guide program and policy decisionmaking. This course focuses primarily on econometric methods of program evaluation, although we will discuss the role and importance of qualitative research methods as well in the various stages of program evaluation.

The course requires extensive reading and engagement with a real evaluation client or a pseudo-client based on a real request for proposals for an evaluation. Student assessment will be based on class discussion, a program evaluation critique paper, a memo, and a final paper and presentation.