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

Mondays 4-7pm
Room 3425 Sterling
Fall 2018

Community-Based Learning Intern: Catherine Torner,

Community Contact: Dr. Karen Reece, UCAN,


The university administration is now mandating that faculty include certain content in their syllabi. Here is the content complying with that mandate:

OK, now on to the syllabus.


The idea of a capstone course is to provide you with a culminating, integrative learning experience.  A good capstone course should help connect the theoretical, methodological, practical, and substantive parts of your experience as a major.  It should also be a liminal, transitional experience as you move from being an undergraduate student into either the professional world or the graduate student world.   I attempt to do that by organizing the course around a real world project that provides you with the opportunity to both pull together things you should have learned in the major and professional skills like problem-solving, project planning and management, and the integration of research and action.

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 unpredictability, and like to work in collaborative contexts, this course is for you.


My overall goal for this course is to support the efforts of UCAN—the Urban Community Arts Network—in Madison to educate the broader community about hip hop music.  To accomplish that, we need to master a set of learning goals.

Do research: We will be using a form of research called community-based research (CBR--it’s called lots of other things too), which will involve learning a variety of other skills.  Reading, written reflections, and in-class training will support this learning goal.

Think critically: There are a lot of ideas out there about hip hop. We will attempt to understand the perspectives on hip hop and where those perspectives come from.  Reading, written reflections, and in-class discussion will support this learning goal.

Communicate skillfully:  Since our task involves supporting UCAN’s efforts to educate the broader community about hip hop we will need to learn how to communicate our research process and results effectively for that broader community. In-class training, evaluation from peers, and evaluation from UCAN will support this learning goal. 

Experience and appreciate diversity: Hip hop not only expresses a form of global diversity but there is amazing diversity within hip hop itself.  Understanding that diversity is important to our effort.  Readings, listenings, in-class discussion, and interaction with UCAN members will support this learning goal. 

Manage projects:  Our specific form of CBR can also be called project-based research because we are supporting a community education project.  We will need to co-design with UCAN, and then deliver, a research project that supports their community education project.  Doing that will require effective teamwork, group-centered leadership, problem-solving, and other project-management skills.  Readings, written reflections, and in-class training will support this learning goal. 

Prepare for Graduate School and the Job Market: Our department is asking students to complete portfolios for our department to use in assessing learning objectives.  We will be spending some time in class on those portfolios.


The Good Society will not come from an exclusive and very powerful few people representing only one set of experiences. It will come from many voices representing many life experiences. Likewise, the best knowledge will come from many voices speaking and listening and combining their wisdoms. I will do everything in my power to create a classroom environment that welcomes and includes diverse perspectives, especially perspectives that have been historically silenced through one or another form of structural discrimination. I welcome the voices of people of all races, ethnicities, and nationalities; all sexual and gender identities; all body types; all spiritualities; all economic classes; all language backgrounds; all family types; all combinations of abilities and learning styles; all participation in international, national, and community service including activism and protest. And I encourage those who feel invisible in relation to these diversities to educate me so that I can welcome you as well. I cannot promise you a "safe" environment. In the current state and national political climates there are no "safe spaces," not even for me. I can only promise you that I will do my utmost to create a "brave space" where people can hopefully gradually feel powerful enough to speak from their experiences and contribute to knowledge diversity for all of us. I will also admit that I will do that imperfectly and welcome you to hold me accountable so that my deeds live up to my words.


People have diverse learning styles and come from diverse backgrounds.  So different people find different parts of each course challenging or engaging.  Please inform me if you have learning needs that don’t fit the course structure/process so I can adjust the course to meet those needs. You may also be able to receive support through the McBurney Center,   The Multicultural Student Center,, the LGBT Campus Center,, and a variety  of student-led groups searchable at


We are facing a student mental health crisis not just at UW-Madison but in higher education institutions across the country. Sadly, our society still stigmatizes mental health as if it is somehow different from other forms of health. I reject that stigmatization. Diabetes and depression, just as examples, are both real health conditions, they both respond to treatment (and interestingly both can be at least partly treated with behavioral interventions as well as with medication), and they both can impact one’s quality of life. I urge you to get treatment for mental health conditions the same way I would urge you to get treatment for any other health condition. I was also trained in counseling long ago (though I am not licensed) and am always willing to have an initial conversation with you and support you in seeking treatment from licensed professionals. You can access information about UW mental health services at .


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 both students and teachers are encouraged to learn and 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 of ideas, especially my own.  In the end, the best learning comes from connecting through our differences, especially if we practice respect for each other as people while we question and criticize each other’s ideas. 


Please feel welcomed to consult with me whenever you have a question about course assignments, lectures, discussions, readings, or project activities. I will gladly discuss questions you have about the course material and our community project. Please also fee welcomed to consult with me whenever you 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 organization we will be working with. For the most part, then, our class meetings will focus on troubleshooting where we are in the process and planning our next steps. 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 work.


You should know that you have specific rights that include accommodations for religious observances, physician-documented illnesses, and disabilities.  You also have the right to appeal grading and disciplinary procedures that normally begin with contacting the chair of the department, Gary Green, or 608-262-2710.  If you do not feel comfortable contacting the chair you can contact the CALS Dean’s office at  Of course, my goal is to structure and facilitate the course in such a way that you feel comfortable contacting me about concerns you have.

You also have specific responsibilities that include things like avoiding plagiarism, not cheating on tests, and sometimes not collaborating.  Those issues will be complicated for us, since we may be using sources who wish to remain unidentified, we will not have tests, and we will be collaborating both with each other and with community members.  We will also be adding an academic integrity principle that isn't normally discussed in courses.  Because we are doing work that is responding to a request by a community organization, a crucial principle of academic integrity is for us to do our very best work on a very strict timeline.  This course must be a priority in your life, because other people will be counting on what you produce.  If you can't make this course a top priority, you shouldn't take it.  I also know that some of you are rapidly approaching graduation, with all its attendant anxieties and distractions of applying for jobs and grad schools.  If you are experiencing those or other distractions, please talk with me.  I may be able to help or at least connect you with someone who can.

Another right/responsibility you have in this course is to collectively determine other rights/responsibilities and I will facilitate a process during our first class meeting for that purpose.


In general, the workload for this class is average. The challenge is that it can be quite uneven so you need to 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 with the necessary preparation. The formal reading load reduces more and more the further we get into the semester.

It is also likely that we will reduce our in-class time to two hours after we get through the first several weeks.  We will then shift to a mid-week check-in system where you will check-in by Thursday of each week on-line to note your progress and challenges in the project work. 


This class will be a group effort. My job is to be a project manager, trainer, and guide. Your 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.


Al readings are available electronically, though some will require that you be logged onto the UW network or the UW library, and some may be available through the online library reserve system. I take 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. 

There will be both required and recommended readings.   Please print out the readings or bring your tablet/laptop to class with an electronic version.


This course is supported online, on the new Canvas system. This is the site we will use to manage online discussions, upload project research information, etc.  It will be a basic workspace.  It may take a little getting used to. Please let me know if you are unfamiliar with it and I will be happy to give you a tour.


Because this project is being designed jointly with you and a community organization, it is impossible to say for sure right now exactly what we will be doing. There is a tentative outline for the project with UCAN posted on the course homepage on Canvas. The course calendar below will show the tasks that need to be accomplished as they become clear and I will continually update it.

  1. "Reflective Strengths and Weaknesses" essay (5 points).    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 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. Please upload using the assignment function on Canvas. Important: verify your upload worked. This essay will be due the beginning of the first class meeting. -1 point for each day late.
  2. "Guided Reflections" (2 points per week beginning week 2 = 28 points).  Each week after we meet you will have the opportunity to submit two paragraphs (roughly 250 words) reflecting on what you read, what happened in class and/or what is happening in the project and what you are learning or feeling confused about (on days when there are readings you should include some discussion of at least a couple readings).  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 and your use of your experiences and course readings in your reflections. Submit your reflections to the Canvas discussion module (you should also be able to access the discussion board via the assignment module) and verify that your submission succeeded. Please take care to submit to the correct discussion folder. Reflections are due before the beginning of the following class each week.  -1 point for each day late.
  3. “Midweek Check-ins” (1 point per week =14 points). Because we will meet only once a week, I will ask each of you to submit a mid-week check-in each week so you don't go until Monday afternoon not thinking about our work..  These will initially be individual posts, but later in the semester will likely be group posts, requiring your group to check-in with each other and then post the notes of your check-in.  To get credit you need to report some progress on tasks due for the next week. . Mid-week check-ins are due by the end of the day Thursday -1 point for each day late.
  4. Project Participation (53 points).  This will be the bulk of your grade.  At this point I can say that we will most likely be doing a study of news media articles about Hip-Hop in Madison from 2008-present.  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.  Here are the tasks so far:
  1. Among the other requirements imposed on us by neoliberal higher education administration is the demand that we produce measurable outcomes not just in classes but overall in the major. To do that we have to pass that demand on to you. So now the department is requiring that each student produce an e-portfolio of your experiences in the major. You can use this to your benefit, as employers are increasingly looking at e-portfolios. We will discuss this more in class, but to get a sense of what we require, you can view the following online e-portfolios from past students:
  2.,, You also do not have to post a public e-portfolio. This requirement is technically outside of the course requirements and is supposed to cover your experience overall in the major rather than just in this course, so I will not grade your e-portfolios, but I will not submit a final grade for you unless you have a complete portfolio. 

A professional skill for completing the work in this course:  If your strategy for succeeding in school has been about doing things at the last minute, you have learned a bad habit. You will find me relatively unsympathetic for requests for extensions if you use such a strategy.  Especially for the reflections, you will do better work if you do them shortly after class rather than waiting a whole week.  Additionally, completing assignments early helps avoid the problems created by mini-disasters.

Incomplete Policy: Because your work in this course will not just impact you, but will affect a community group, you will need to work on their schedule, not yours. Thus there is no provision for incompletes in this course. The due dates are all strict and final. If you find yourself in a situation where you are not able to complete the coursework on the schedule set, please contact me as soon as the situation arises.

Final grades calculation—it’s a simple points system, not a percentage:

A = >92

A/B = 88-92

B = 83-87

B/C = 78-82

C = 70-77

D = 60-69

F = <60


**Remember to print out the readings or bring your tablet/laptop to class with an electronic version as we may be discussing them.

**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.

Week 1, September 10: Introduction to the Course—UCAN and Hip-Hop


~Upload "Strengths and weaknesses" essay by beginning of class.

~Complete midweek check-in by end of the day September 13.

~Begin Human Subjects Research training at and upload completion certificate to Canvas before class time on September 24.


powerpoint slides from UCAN's presentation on the history of Hip-Hop   

Read (I know it looks like a lot but it’s mostly short news articles):

Rebecca Laurence.  2014.  40 years on from the party where hip hop was born.  BBC.   

Hip-Hop on Trial, prominent Hip-Hop heads debate whether the genre enhances or hurts society. 2012. (view first 46 minutes)

Urban Community Arts Network. - - browse all sections

Analyzing the Relationship Between Violence and Live Music Performances in Madison. This is the capstone project from fall (and spring) of 2016-17. Read the main body of the report (pp. 1-22).

Hip-Hop Through the Lens of Madison Print Media. This is the capstone project from fall (and spring) of 2017-18.

Fight witnesses condemn Madison police as Brink Lounge stops booking hip-hop -

Hip-hop Tiptoe: Local music scene seeks answers to longstanding tensions (2008) -

Hip-hop heroes: DJs and emcees demand respect for Madison's scene (2014) -

Hip-hop ban replaced with a plan (2016) -


Three news stories on the 2016 capstone Hip-Hop and violence study:,,

History of Hip Hop Music.  2016.  English Club.

The Hip-Hop Architect (2016) -

Panel discussion on Hip-Hop and literature:

Cal U Hiphop Conference 2010 Keynote Panel Presentation (Part 2) -

Cal U Hiphop Conference 2010 Keynote Panel Presentation (Part 2) -

Hip Hop Futures: A Lecture and Discussion -

Commentary about various aspects of Hip-Hop from artists and community activists:

Style Wars (1983) ? Documentary

The Art of Getting Over: Graffiti at the Millennium (1999) ? Book Author: Stephen Powers

Marley Marl On The Bridge Wars, LL Cool J And Discovering Sampling (2013) ?

Kurtis Blow on The Birth of Hip-Hop, Evolution from the DJ to the MC (2016) ?

Commentary on Hip-Hop becoming part of pop culture:

Origin of Hip-Hop:

Blog- everything from Hip-Hop History to current news that is relevant to the Hip-Hop community:

Beats, Rhymes, and Classroom Life: Hip-Hop Pedagogy and the Politics of Identity by Marc Lamont Hill -

Week 2, September 17: Introduction to Community-Based Research


~Upload to Canvas, by the beginning of class, a guided reflection covering the September 10 class on the question “How do your experiences with Hip-Hop compare to what you have learned in the class so far?”

~Complete midweek check-in by end of the day September 20.

~Continue Human Subjects Research training at  and upload completion certificate to Canvas before class time on September 25.


Stoecker, Randy. 2013. Research Methods for Community Change. Chapters 1-3. Available on Canvas at 

Stoecker, Randy.  2012. "CBR and the Two Forms of Social Change." Journal of Rural Social Sciences. 27:83-98.


Randy Stoecker and Mary Beckman, 2009, Making Higher Education Civic Engagement Matter in the Community.  Campus Compact.

Randy Stoecker and Elizabeth Tryon. 2009. The Unheard Voices:  Community Organizations and Service Learning. Temple University Press.  See chapter 1 at

Ward, K., & Wolf-Wendel, L. Community-centered service learning. The American Behavioral Scientist, (2000).43(5), 767-780

Pamela Rao et al.  2004.  Student Participation in Community-Based Participatory Research to Improve Migrant and Seasonal Farmworker Health. Journal of Environmental Education.

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)

Week 3, September 24: Professional skills


~Upload to Canvas, by beginning of class, a guided reflection covering September 17 on the question “What do you see as the potential risks and benefits to a CBR approach for this project?”

~Complete Human Subjects Research training at  and upload completion certificate to Canvas before class time.

~Work on overall project design, bringing in professional skills

~Complete midweek check-in by end of the day September 27.



Community Tool Box.  2014.  Developing Facilitation Skills.


Page, Diana, and Donelan, Joseph G. 2003. Team-Building Tools for Students. Journal of Education for Business. Vol. 78 Issue 3, p125. Download from Canvas at

Project planning and tracking

Mochal, Tom. 2009. 10 best practices for successful project management. TechRepublic. July 23.

Problem solving

ITS.  2005-2018.  Read What Are Problems?, The Stages of Problem-Solving, The Skills of Problem Solving, Why People Fail to Solve Problems Effectively, Barriers to Finding the Best Solution, and Overcoming the Blocks to Problem Solving

Group-Centered Leadership (read one of the following)

Chris Crass. 2008.  Organizing Lessons from Civil Rights Leader Ella Baker  

Colin Ward.  1966.  Anarchism as a Theory of Organization.  

Mary Wandia.  2011. Challenging Structural Inequalities: The Vision of Feminist Transformative Leadership. BUWA! – A Journal on African Women’s Experiences. Download from Canvas> 


Week 4, October 1: Research Methods


~Upload to Canvas, by beginning of class, a guided reflection covering September 26 on the question “What can you imagine are the challenges and benefits to successfully using facilitation, teamwork, project management, problem solving, and  group-centered leadership in this project?”

~Work on project design, bringing in research methods

~Complete midweek check-in by end of the day Oct. 4.

If you will be doing interviewing, read:

Carolyn Boyce and Palena Neale. 2006. Conducting in-depth interviews.

California Department of Health Services, Northern California Grantmakers AIDS Task Force. 1998. Good Questions, Better Answers. Read Chapter 4. Download from Canvas at

Strategies for Qualitative Interviews--no author, no date.

If you will be working on the survey, read:

California Department of Health Services, Northern California Grantmakers AIDS Task Force. 1998. Good Questions, Better Answers. Read Chapter 5. Download from Canvas at

10 Key Things To Consider When Designing Surveys, By Michaela Mora, 2016.

Qualtrics. What is a survey, and Survey design your respondents will love

Wikiversity. Survey Design.

Week 5, October 8:      TBA


~Upload to Canvas, by beginning of class, a guided reflection covering October 1 on the question “What might be the challenges you could face in trying to get and analyze the data for this project and what are ways of dealing with those challenges?”

~Continue project work--

~Complete midweek check-in by end of the day  Oct. 11.


Week 6, October 15: TBA


~Upload to Canvas, by beginning of class, guided reflection on successes, challenges, and questions you have about the project and your own learning in the class during this past week.

~Continue project work

~Complete midweek check-in by end of the day Oct. 18.


Week 7, October 22:  TBA


~Upload to Canvas, by beginning of class, guided reflection on successes, challenges, and questions you have about the project during this past week. <

~Continue project work

~Complete midweek check-in by end of the day Oct. 25.


Week 8, October 29:      TBA


~Upload to Canvas, by beginning of class, guided reflection on successes, challenges, and questions you have about the project during this past week.

~Continue project work

~Complete midweek check-in by end of the day Nov. 1.


Week 9, November 5:    TBA


~Upload to Canvas, by beginning of class, guided reflection on successes, challenges, and questions you have about the project during this past week.

~Continue project work

~Complete midweek check-in by end of the day  Nov.8.


Week 10, November 12:              TBA


~Upload to Canvas guided reflection on successes, challenges, and questions you have about the project during this past week.

~Continue project work

~Complete midweek check-in by end of the day  Nov. 15.


Heather Stuckey. 2015. The second step in data analysis: Coding qualitative research data. Methodological Issues in Social Health and Diabetes Research.

Taylor, C and Gibbs, G R (2010) "How and what to code", Online QDA Web Site, Also do the exercises.

Week 11, November 19:             TBA


~Upload to Canvas guided reflection on successes, challenges, and questions you have about the project during this past week.

~Continue project work

~Complete midweek check-in by end of the day Nov. 22.


Week 12, November 26: Writing up research results


~Upload to Canvas guided reflection on successes, challenges, and questions you have about the project during this past week.

~Continue project work

~Complete midweek check-in by end of the day Nov. 29.


University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Group Writing Handout

Handout from Duke that discusses Group Writing

"Storytelling Enhances the Influence of Science-Based Writing"

An example of the kind of writing we will do (beginning on p. 18):;idno=3239521.0014.202;format=pdf.

Week 13, December 3:  TBA


~Upload to Canvas, by beginning of class, guided reflection on successes, challenges, and questions you have about the project during this past week.

~Continue project work

~Complete midweek check-in by end of the day Dec. 6.


Kim Blank's "Wordiness, Wordiness, Wordiness List"

A scary-easy way to help you find passive voice!

How College Students Can Learn to Write Well

UW Madison Writer's Handbook (go to the research papers section)

Week 14, December 10:             TBA


~Upload to Canvas, by beginning of class, guided reflection on successes, challenges, and questions you have about the project during this past week.

~Continue project work

~Complete midweek check-in by end of the day Dec. 13.



Designated Finals Period:           **


~Complete all Project Tasks

Strengths and Weaknesses Essay by Randy Stoecker

Randy Stoecker

I have been involved with community change projects for over three 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, possible ways that they can answer their knowledge questions, and how to use the knowledge they get.

Of course, for me, all strengths have a kind of yin-yang weakness associated with them, and I was reminded of this recently, 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 people 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 moving a course-based community project from start to finish. Without fail, by the end of the project we have produced for the community what we said we would produce. And those projects matter. I have worked with groups who have changed water policy, founded a new community center, and changed the City of Madison entertainment policy process. 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.

Now, I must admit, that sometimes the project grows, but the class always finishes what we agreed to. But I always reserve some time in case I need to spend another semester and perhaps even the summer on making the work the best that it can be. Thankfully there are usually capstone students who also want to keep going with me

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 stressed, because I can see when we risk getting behind and that causes me to push harder than others might like. 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.