Technology in Teaching Showcase

Collaborative Technology-Based Projects at Hamilton College

Public Policy Web Site Project Overview

Description and Resources


Course Name:
Topics in Public Policy: Meta-Analysis and Public Policy

Course Description:
The purpose of this course is to provide policy-makers with the highest possible empirical evidence on pressing policy issues. In the first half of the class, students will learn the basics of meta-analysis, an exciting, relatively recent development in the methodology of science. In the second half of the course, students will work in groups to perform meta-analyses on the topics of their choice, and to produce a magazine, a presentation, and a website to disseminate their findings.

Project Description:
The students are learning a powerful new tool, meta-analysis, which allows the results of numerous studies to be synthesized. In groups, they will be using this tool to find answers to critical policy questions of interest to them -- for example, what is the effect on job growth of an increase in the minimum wage? What is the effect of immigration on growth in the American economy? To make this task more concrete, I've asked the students to construct a professional-looking web site that helps emphasize the importance and credibility of their work. The intention of the website is to help convert the abstract exercise of meta-analysis into a real conversation.

» Professor Gary Wyckoff

This course required the used of Dreamweaver for the editing of web pages and Photoshop for image editing. Text was written and proofed using Microsoft Word. Students were also provided workshops and a written summary articulating the process of matching content with a site layout.

Packaged Resources:
» Download

Completed Student Projects

Meta-Analysis for Public Policy - Created Spring, 2007

Goals, Process and Outcomes

Project Goals:
For the students, working on the web site will be an exercise in learning how to explain what they've found to ordinary people -- in other words, how to convey their knowledge in a compelling, accurate, and accessible way.

Faculty Interview: Project Goals

Learning Objectives:
By the end of this course project, students will learn to:
  1. Write web page content that can effectively communicate their findings to an audience of professors, journalists, students and ordinary citizens.
  2. Write content that demonstrates a quantitative, rather than an emotional or ideological, analysis of the data
  3. Choose a web design from a collection of open source designs that will be effective in communicating their intended information
  4. Use the components of a web page, such as navigation, headers, graphics and links to organize and present their research findings to a wide audience.
  5. Be able to respond to communication generated from the website.

Faculty Interview: Learning Objectives

Project Process:
Students will select an open-source web template to use for their site and meet with ITS Instructional Technology Support staff to learn the basics of website design and use of Dreamweaver. Over the following month, students will perform their research, write papers and repurpose the information to be used in a website, identifying for the logical structure in the information. Students will be divided into groups, including writers, image editors and proofreaders to expedite the creation of the site and the content. As necessary, groups will attend ITS workshops to gain the technology skills necessary to fulfill their respective roles. Two weeks before the due date of the project, students will participate in working sessions led by ITS Instructional Technology Support Staff to work through the technical details of moving their text and image content into their selected web template.

Faculty Interview: Project Process

Learning Outcomes:
Students accomplished the primary learning objectives and learned how to communicate their research findings through a web site. Though students did not become web site "designers," they were able to navigate the editing of code and gained an appreciation for using elements such as navigation controls and graphics to provide a clear and accessible repository for their knowledge.

Faculty Interview: Learning Outcomes