Literature Review Workshops for Master of Public Affairs (MPA) Students
Course: PB AF 608: Degree Project Seminar
Faculty: Mary Kay Gugerty, Joaquin Herranz, Alison Cullen, Kenneth Smith, Daniel Carlson, Rachel Kleit
Librarian: Emily Keller, Political Science & Public Affairs Librarian
Emily Keller collaborated with a cohort of Evans School Faculty to teach a series of literature review workshops geared towards students enrolled in PB AF 608: Degree Project Seminar. To earn a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree, students must complete a degree project, working closely with a faculty member to research a topic, which are often “client-generated real-world questions” (Evans School of Public Affairs). The degree project seminars are comprised of one faculty member and 9-12 students, spanning winter and spring quarters and resulting in a completed degree project. The seminars are “a faculty- and peer-facilitated vehicle to move each student through the stages of development of an applied research project.” (Kleit, 2012).
As the Public Affairs Librarian, Emily consistently received a high number of requests for consultations from individuals engaged in research for the degree project. These one-on-one interactions were highly valuable to the students and librarian. However, in an effort to reach more students, Emily proposed offering a series of literature review workshops that would be targeted to all degree project students. The faculty members teaching all six sections of the degree project seminar encouraged their students to attend and in Winter 2012 Emily offered three workshops at various times.
Description of the workshops:
Emily led a discussion outlining the role of the literature review in the context of their larger projects. She described a number of strategies and sources for efficiently and systematically identifying key texts, concepts, and questions, including concept mapping and identifying extant literature reviews related to their research questions. There was also a strong emphasis on the challenges and strategies for approaching interdisciplinary topics.
Emily plans to offer the workshops again and believes they are a sustainable and scalable way to provide research assistance at the course-level. The workshops will also ensure that all students will have the opportunity to learn about the services and resources available to support their success.