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Course 2022-2023 a.y.

30480 - TOPICS IN POLITICS I

BIG
Department of Social and Political Sciences

Course taught in English



Go to class group/s: 31

BIG (3 credits - I sem. - OBS  |  SPS/04)
Course Director:
HECTOR SOLAZ SANTOS

Classes: 31 (I sem.)
Instructors:
Class 31: HECTOR SOLAZ SANTOS


Suggested background knowledge

Familiarity with basic algebra and comfort with basic statistics would be helpful.


Mission & Content Summary
MISSION

Randomized control trials (RCTs), randomized evaluations, rigorous evaluations, impact assessments are all a slightly complicated way of saying something really quite simple. If we want to know how effective a program is, we need to have a comparison group. Without a comparison, we are limited in our ability to know what would have happened without the program. And the only way of having an equitable comparison group is with random assignment. Randomized control trials (RCTs), randomized evaluations, rigorous evaluations, impact assessments are all a slightly complicated way of saying something really quite simple. If we want to know how effective a program is, we need to have a comparison group. Without a comparison, we are limited in our ability to know what would have happened without the program. And the only way of having an equitable comparison group is with random assignment. Randomized evaluations to measure impact provide the most credible and reliable way to learn what works and what does not. Randomized evaluations use the same methods frequently used in high quality medical research and rely on the random assignment of a program or policy to measure its impact on those that received the program compared to those who did not. The mission of the course is to provide students with the knowledge and tools to design, conduct and analyse randomized field experiments (RCTs) in politics to evaluate theories, programmes and policies.

CONTENT SUMMARY
  • Why Conducting Experiments 

  • Potential Outcomes 

  • Statistical Foundations 

  • Designing and Executing Field Experiments 

  • Experimental Ethics  

  • Voter Mobilisation 

  • Social Networks  

  • Social Contact and Prejudice Reduction 

  • Gender and Politics 

 


Intended Learning Outcomes (ILO)
KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING
At the end of the course student will be able to...
  • Define the fundamental principles and practice of RCTs 

  • Describe the critical issues involved in planning, conducting and completing a successful RCT 

  • Understand the basic statistics used to plan and analyse RCTs 

  • Understand the importance of Research Integrity, Transparency, and Reproducibility 

 

APPLYING KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING
At the end of the course student will be able to...
  • Design a Randomized Evaluation 

  • Collect and manageexperimental data 

  • Structure the analytic and thinking process for public policy evaluation. 

 


Teaching methods
  • Face-to-face lectures
  • Group assignments
DETAILS

Working in pairs students will be asked to write a research design essay (3000 words) on how they would address a causal research question of their choice in Political Science using a randomized field experiment. The research design should include a short literature review, hypotheses, research design, and pre-analysis plan. Each pair will also prepare one 5-minute presentation of a preliminary draft that will provide a checkpoint to obtain early feedback. 

 


Assessment methods
  Continuous assessment Partial exams General exam
  • Written individual exam (traditional/online)
  •     x
  • Group assignment (report, exercise, presentation, project work etc.)
  •     x
    ATTENDING STUDENTS

    will have to submit a group assignment and present their assignment. 

     

    The grading criteria for the assignment will be the following: 

     

    •Research question, theory (brief literature review) and hypotheses (25%, approx. 500 words) 

     

    •Design (50%, approx. 1000 words) 

    -Sample 

    -Experimental Conditions 

    -Description of Treatment(s) 

    -Type of random assignment 

    -Execution 

    -Excludability and non-interference 

    -Outcome measurement 

     

    •Analysis Strategy (25%, approx. 500 words) 

    -Estimator (in PO notation) / regression equations 

    -Hypothesis testing (one or two-tailed?) 

    -Any adjustments for clusters? Covariates? 

     

    NOT ATTENDING STUDENTS

    students’ assessment is based on the written exam (100%). 

     

    The written exam consists of a series of multiple choice questions aimed to assess students’ ability to apply the fundamental principles and practice of RCTs illustrated during the course, to describe the critical issues involved in planning, conducting and completing a successful RCT as well as to test the student’s understanding of the basic statistics used to plan and run randomized control trials.

     


    Teaching materials
    ATTENDING AND NOT ATTENDING STUDENTS

    Required textbook: 

    • Gerber, Alan and Donald P. Green. 2012. Field Experiments: Design, Analysis, and Interpretation, New York: W.W. Norton, 2012. 

     

    Suggested texts: 

     

    • Glennerster, Rachel and Kudzai Takavarasha. 2013. Running Randomized Evaluations: A Practical Guide. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. 

     

    • John, Peter. 2017. Field Experiments in Political Science and Public Policy: Practical Lessons in Design and Delivery, London: Routledge. 

    • Karlan, Dean and Jacob Appel. Failing in the Field, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2016. 

     
     
    Journal articles and other reading list texts, as assigned.

    Last change 27/06/2022 12:55