January 18 January 18 January 18 January 18 January 18 January 18 January 18 January 18

Capstone Experience--Community-Based Research
C & E Soc 500

The web address for this syllabus is :

Professor: Randy Stoecker
Office:  Agricultural Hall 340
Office Hours:  by appointment
Phone:  608-890-0764
Fax: 608-263 - 4999
E-mail: rstoecker@wisc.edu

Spring 2012
Thursdays 1:00-3:30pm
Room 1263 Computer Science


Facilitating a course that is designed to produce outcomes for both the community and the students is one of the most exciting things I do. It can be a bit unnerving at times, since the success of the entire project requires fitting so many pieces together in a tight timeline. But I have done it enough to know that it can work, and can have real impacts. So if you like learning by doing, are comfortable with a little unpredictability, and like to work in collaborative contexts, this course is for you.


I have two goals for this course:

1.  to support the community organizing and development work of the SouthWest Community Organizing Committee

2.  to learn how to conduct community-based research by doing a CBR project start-to-finish, and to learn specific research methods and practices.


Please inform me if you have special learning needs so I can adjust the course to meet those needs.


When teachers realize they still have things to learn and students realize they have things to teach, and when everyone is in an atmosphere where teachers are encouraged to learn and students are encouraged to teach, everyone benefits.

My job is to create and maintain a learning atmosphere where everyone feels comfortable taking intellectual and interpersonal risks, and to help you do your part in maintaining that atmosphere.  I welcome critiques ofideas, especially my own.  But please practice respect for each other as people while you question and criticize each others' ideas. 


Please consult with me whenever you have a question about course assignments, lectures, discussions, or readings. I will gladly discuss questions you have about the course material. You should also consult with me whenever you may find yourself interested in the issues raised in the course and you want to discuss further or get more information.


There may be times in this class when the phrase "course organization" will sound like an oxymoron. Project courses like this are somewhat like a line of dominoes--knock one down and the rest behind them also fall over. Thankfully, there aren't that many dominoes, and they are easy to set up again. The timeline of this project is not dependent on just you and me, but on the university bureaucracy and the community organizations we will be working with. For the most part, then, our class meetings will focus on troubleshooting where we are in the process.

However, we will also be engaged in a variety of in-class training exercises. You will learn how to do research from start to finish in this class, and to connect it to real community organizing and development work.


In general, the workload for this class is average. The challenge is that it can be quite uneven unless you manage your time effectively.

You will see that the first few weeks are heavy with reading and activity. I have, for the most part, "front-loaded" the preparatory work of the course so we can move into the project as quickly as possible. The reading load reduces more and more the further we get into the semester.

You will also notice that we will not meet at some points in the semester. That is partly because I am traveling, and partly because you will be spending time scheduling appoints, conducting interviews, returning transcripts, and drafting the report. It will not be crucial for us to meet as a class during those times and I want to give you as much time as possible for doing the project work.


This class will be a group effort. My job is to be a project manager, trainer, and guide. You job is to tell me what you need to learn to carry out the tasks of the project, what you need to have clarified to keep the project on track, and what skills you can bring to help troubleshoot when things go wrong.


Most readings are available on the Internet, though many require that you be logged onto the UW network, and some may be available through the online library reserve system. I have taken every effort to post links that will work from on and off campus.  When you are off campus, you will likely need to login to access some of the readings. 

I will also provide a list of recommended books, in addition to the readings here.

Please print out the readings or bring your pda/laptop to class with an electronic version.


This course is supported online, at Learn@UW  This is the site we will use to manage online discussions, upload interviews and drafts, etc.  It will be a basic workspace.  It may take a little getting used to.


Because this project is being designed jointly with you and a community organization, it is impossible to say for sure right now what we will be doing. The course calendar below will show the tasks that need to be accomplished as they become clear .

  1. "Weekly Questions" (1 point per week=14 points).  Each week you will need to submit at least three questions to guide our work for that class period. On weeks that we have readings your questions should focus at least partly on the readings.  On all weeks you can also include questions about what we are doing in the project itself. The purpose is to encourage you to read critically and to help me learn what is and is not making sense to you. Submit to Learn@UW dropbox. Due before beginning of class each week.  No credit for late questions.
  2. "Reflective Strengths and Weaknesses" essay (10 points).  This essay will be due the beginning of the second class meeting.  It should be about 500 words and should be your reflection on your own strengths and weaknesses in relation to the project (or at least what you know of it).  I won't grade you at all on what your strengths and weaknesses--only on the extent to which you've made clear that you've reflected carefully on what they are.  You can see my example at the end of this syllabus.
  3. "Weekly Reflections" (2 points per week = 28 points).  Each week after we meet you will need to submit two paragraphs (roughly 250 words each) reflecting on what happened in class and/or what is happening in the project and what you are learning or feeling confused about.  The purpose is to help you become conscious of what you are learning and to help me learn what I need to help clarify.  I will not grade you on whether I think you should have learned something but on the depth of your reflection. Submit to Learn@UW dropbox. Due before the beginning of the following class each week.  -1 point for each day late.
  4. Project Participation (48 points).  This will be the bulk of your grade.  At this point we cannot for sure say what that will involve beyond completing the university's human subjects research protection training.  As we meet with community members we will develop a more specific project plan and we will then collaboratively divide up the labor and assign points to it.  We will also collectively hold each other accountable for completing the necessary tasks on time and at a level of quality acceptable to our community partner. 

    Final grades calculation:

    A = 90-100

    B = 80-89

    C = 70-79

    D = 60-69

    F = <60


    **Remember to print out the readings or bring your tablet/laptop to class with an electronic version.

    **I will add readings as the semester progresses.  You can always find the most up-to-date list on the web version of the syllabus.

We will not meet, but you should turn in your final reflection essay at this time.

January 26:

Introduction to the Community--Southwest Madison


Creating a Sense of Place in Southwest Madison: An Evidence-Based, Public Health Approach to Community Revitalization, Kim Neuschel and Jessica LeClair, 4-24-2008, http://www.publichealthmdc.com/documents/CommunityRevitalization.pdf

Madison's Meadowood: Time to Act, Paul Soglin, 8-24-2009, http://www.waxingamerica.com/2009/08/madisons-meadowood-time-to-act.html

City dispatches public health nurses to help Meadowood neighbors connect. The Cap Times, 1-30-10. http://host.madison.com/ct/news/local/health_med_fit/article_e00bd3eb-61d1-594d-950a-3f3af827201c.html

Public Health Madison & Dane County turns attention to neighborhoods, violence prevention. The Isthmus, 12-15-11. http://www.thedailypage.com/isthmus/article.php?article=35452


February 2:
Introduction to the Project--Neighborhood Free Spaces


Michelle Fine et al., 2000, Educating Beyond the Borders of Schooling, Anthropology & Education Quarterly Volume 31, Issue 2, pages 131–151.  http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com.ezproxy.library.wisc.edu/doi/10.1525/aeq.2000.31.2.131/pdf

Barbara Trainin Blank, 1998, Settlement Houses: Old Idea in New Form Builds Communities, New Social Worker 5. http://www.socialworker.com/settleme.htm

Australian Association of Neighborhood Houses, 2011, Neighborhood House Case Studies, Newsletter, pp. 5+:  http://www.anhlc.asn.au/files/news_111013__anhlc_news_nov_11_v2.pdf .  The Australian network is enormous; there are over five dozen neighborhood houses in Melbourne alone, and about 350 in the state of Victoria, which has half a million fewer people than Wisconsin.

Network West, Inc. 2010. Western Suburbs communities gather locally & celebrate nationally.   http://networkwest.net/sites/default/files/Media%20ReleaseNHweek%20May2010.pdf

Duke Street Community House, Our History. http://www.dsch.org.au/history


Sara Evans and Harry Boyte. 1992.  Free Spaces: The Sources of Democratic Change in America. University of Chicago Press. 

What's This Place?  Stories from Radical Social Centres in the UK and Ireland.  http://socialcentrestories.files.wordpress.com/2008/06/whats-this-place_lo-res.pdf

Francesca Polletta, 1999, Free Spaces in Collective Action, Theory and Society 28: 1-. 38. http://www.socsci.uci.edu/~polletta/Articles%20and%20Book%20Chapters_files/Free_spaces.pdf


  • Turn in "strengths and weaknesses" essay.
  • Turn in "questions" for this week
  • Turn in "reflection" from previous week
  • Complete Human Subjects tutorial at https://my.gradsch.wisc.edu/citi/index.php and send completion certificate to Randy
  • meet with community organization core group (in class) to begin developing research plan

February 9:
Project-Based Research

Read:  (choose four for class, read the rest prior to beginning interviews)(articles without a listed URL are available through http://my.wisc.edu)

Randy Stoecker, Research Methods for Community Change (**stay tuned as I am hoping the new edition may be available by this time**)


  • Turn in "questions" for this week
  • Turn in "reflection" from previous week
  • continuing refining research plan

February 16:
Models and Ethics of Community-University Partnerships


What's This Place?  Stories from Radical Social Centres in the UK and Ireland.  http://socialcentrestories.files.wordpress.com/2008/06/whats-this-place_lo-res.pdf

Randy Stoecker and Mary Beckman, 2009, Making Higher Education Civic Engagement Matter in the Community.  Campus Compact.  http://www.compact.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/engagementproof-1.pdf

Ward, K., & Wolf-Wendel, L. Community-centered service learning. The American Behavioral Scientist, (2000).43(5), 767-780 http://abs.sagepub.com.ezproxy.library.wisc.edu/cgi/reprint/43/5/767


  • Randy Stoecker and Elizabeth Tryon, 2009, Chapter 1, The Unheard Voices:  Community Organizations and Service Learning. Temple University Press http://www.temple.edu/tempress/titles/2023_reg.html
  • Amy Driscoll, Barbara Holland, Sherril Gelmon, and Seanna Kerrigan. An Assessment Model for Service-Learning: Comprehensive Case Studies of Impact on Faculty, Students, Community, and Institution. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning vol. 3 1996.
  • Andrea Vernon And Kelly Ward. Campus and Community Partnerships: Assessing Impacts & Strengthening Connections.  Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning Vol 6 1999
  • Joseph R. Ferrari and Laurie Worrall. Assessments by Community Agencies: How “the Other Side” Sees Service-Learning. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning Vol 7 2000.
  • Ethel Jorg. Outcomes for Community Partners In An Unmediated Service-Learning Program.  Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning 2003 V. 10 #1
  • Jo Anna Tauscher Birdsall, n.d. Community Voice: Community Partners Reflect on Service Learning. http://www.mc.maricopa.edu/other/engagement/Journal/Issue5/Birdsall.pdf
  • Carol H. Tice. Forging University-Community Collaboration: The Agency Perspective on National Service. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning vol. 1, 1994
  • Nadinne I. Cruz and Dwight E. Giles, Jr.  Where’s the Community in Service-Learning Research?  Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning 2000 (special issue)
  • Nora Bacon. Differences In Faculty And Community Partners’ Theories Of Learning. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning Vol. 9 #1 2002
  • Brenda K. Bushouse. Community Nonprofit Organizations and Service-Learning: Resource Constraints to Building Partnerships with Universities. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning 2005 v. 12 #1
  • Jones, S.R. Principles and profiles of exemplary partnerships with community agencies. In B. Jacoby & Associates (Eds.), Building partnerships for service learning (pp. 151-173). (2003).San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass


  • Turn in "questions" for this week
  • Turn in "reflection" from previous week
  • meet with community organization core group (in class) to finalize research plan
  • develop lists of groups to contact for research
  • Submit IRB protocol

February 23:
(no class)

It is likely that part of our research task will involve learning about some of the real life options in Madison that might be adaptable to southwest Madison.  You can use the class time to do that research.


 Case study research: 

Randy Stoecker, 1991.  Evaluating and Rethinking the Case Study.  The Sociological Review. http://web.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.library.wisc.edu/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=c2064760-cd33-49aa-bae7-27483df64ce9%40sessionmgr12&vid=4&hid=19

Sue Soy.  1996.  The Case Study as a Research Method.  http://www.gslis.utexas.edu/~ssoy/usesusers/l391d1b.htm

Focus groups:

Nancy Grudens-Schuck, Beverlyn Lundy Allen, and Kathlene Larson.  2004 Focus Group Fundamentals.  http://www.extension.iastate.edu/publications/pm1969b.pdf

Omni.  Toolkit for Conducting Focus Groups.  http://www.omni.org/docs/focusgrouptoolkit.pdf


  • Divide into research teams
  • begin contacting groups if IRB approval received

March 1:

Neighborhood Center Research


 Student reports from community center case studies.


  • Turn in "questions" for this week
  • Turn in "reflection" from previous week (actually two weeks ago)
  • Research Tasks -- collect more community center case study data

March 8:

Community Data Collection


 Links to readings on community data collection:


Links to readings about house meetings:

http://www.npaction.org/resources/WORC/mtg15.pdf http://www.du.edu/ccesl/docs/co_handbook_2010_11_print_protected.pdf (see p. 23)



  • Turn in "questions" for this week

  • Turn in "reflection" from previous week

  • Research Tasks -- collect more community center data, create template for reporting results to community, start outlining process for community data collection

March 15:

Prepare neighborhood center preliminary report

Read: organization reports


  • Turn in "questions" for this week
  • Turn in "reflection" from previous week
  • Research Tasks:  work on report
March 22:
Meet in Southwest Madison

Read: floor plan


  • Turn in "questions" for this week
  • Turn in "reflection" from previous week
  • Research Tasks:  have preliminary report prepared with subreports

March 29:

Course check-in

Read:  student-generated source material on zoning, code, and ADA requirements


  • Turn in "questions" for this week
  • Turn in "reflection" from previous week
  • Report out on what you learned on reading topics
  • Plan remaining weeks. 

April 5:
(no class)
Spring Break

April 12:
Preparation for last community meeting

Read:  student reports on zoning, code, and ADA requirements


  • Turn in "questions" for this week
  • Turn in "reflection" from previous week (actually two weeks ago)
  • Research Tasks: continue working on zoning, code, and ADA guides

April 19:
Preparation for last community meeting

Read: reread chapters from Stoecker, Research Methods for Community Change


  • Turn in "questions" for this week
  • Turn in "reflection" from previous week
  • Research Tasks: turn in next drafts of zoning, code, and ADA guides; revise floorplan

April 26:

Final community meeting

Read: student reports on zoning, code, and ADA requirements


  • Turn in "questions" for this week
  • Turn in "reflection" from previous week
  • Research Tasks:  meet in neighborhood to report on all research
May 3: Preparation of final report

Read: Foundation Center website, http://foundationcenter.org/


  • Turn in "questions" for this week
  • Turn in "reflection" from previous week
  • Research Tasks:  revise zoning and code handouts, prepare funding and governance handouts

May 10: TBA

Read: how to evaluate success of community-university partnerships

David Wilson:  Key features of successful university-community partnerships,  http://www.pew-partnership.org/pdf/new_directions/2_partnerships.pdf

Core characteristics of authentic partnerships, http://depts.washington.edu/ccph/pdf_files/grids.pdf

Community-university partnerships, what do we know, http://depts.washington.edu/ccph/pdf_files/symposium_report.pdf


  • Turn in "questions" for this week
  • Turn in "reflection" from previous week
  • Research Tasks: complete all handouts
Designated Finals Period:

Strengths and Weaknesses Essay

Randy Stoecker

I have been involved with community change projects for over two and a half decades. I have also studied the process of making community change for the same amount of time. And probably the first thing I have learned about myself in the process is that I really like combining the making of change with the studying of change. In fact, I think combining them makes each stronger. So my main strength is my ability to transform the research process to serve the community change process. I can easily see what knowledge questions a community is facing and possibly ways that they can answer their knowledge questions.

Of course, for me, all strengths have a kind of yin-yang weakness associated with them, and I was reminded of this again just last night, when I helped with a community event that included an issue development process. I had forgotten that what seems obvious to me is not obvious to others and may not even be part of how they think in the world. So I didn’t do as well in working with a community leader to communicate the issue development process and we ended up causing some confusion in the group as a consequence. It wasn’t a fatal lapse, but was still humbling.

One of the other things I have become quite good at in just the past half-decade is getting a course-based community project from start to finish in a single semester. Without fail, by the end of the semester we have produced for the community what we said we would produce. Part of the reason for that is the students, community members, and myself all become involved in planning the project and shaping it as we go.

The complementary weakness of my success at finishing projects is that I am often a lot more comfortable with the early uncertainty of such a project than nearly all of the other people involved. In fact, I have the most fun when things are uncertain and we start designing a project. It is in carrying out the project where I feel the most stressful, because I can see when we risk getting behind. In addition, I am not the best at detail work. I really like the big picture work, and really have to push myself to remember that accomplishing the big picture requires thinking ahead to the details—making sure that I know when community meetings need to be scheduled, and scheduling them two weeks ahead, making sure there are drafts ready for review a week before the meeting, and so on.

My final strength/weakness is that I am comfortable with the critical reflection process. I am hardly ever satisfied with my own work, and actually like the process of reflecting on how to do better. Sometimes I carry that over to how I reflect on the work of others without as much sensitivity as I’d like or I hold back because I worry about being insensitive. So I am still feeling clumsy about that.