PRR 475 Exercises
 
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Labs : Room NR 218    Back to PRR475 Home Page

Lab Instructors:   Daniel Stynes and YaYen Sun 
E-mail:  sunyayen@msu.edu
E-mail:  stynes@msu.edu

Final Exam Dec 15: 7:45-9:45 a.m. 

Labs to date

Week 1:Intro to lab:  Lab1.htm 
Week 2: Web browsing, HTML  labex2.htm
Week 3: Excel basics: labex3.doc
Week 4. Excel Charts labex4.htm, lab4data.xls
Week 5. Questionnaire formatting, WORD - labex5.doc 
Week 6: Downloading data from web into Excel labex6.xls
datalinks475.htm
Week 7. Sampling. labex7.doc, sample.xls
Week 9. Database procedures in Excel, labex8db.doc, data475.xls
Week 10-12. Introd to SPSS,  spss99.doc, hcma96.sav
Week 13-14 . Powerpoint
See Table below for other supporting files.  

Jump to Lab Schedule
 

November 29:  Powerpoint. Exercise is to develop a short slide show (6 slides or less) in Powerpoint covering some evaluation or research topic. You may make up your own topic or cover a chapter in a text or info from class handouts. Use this exercise to begin your review. Hand in one page with the Powerpoint Handouts (6 per page). Also post your presentation to 475 Webtalk so other students may view it. Tips on Powerpoint and exercise handout as Word document is at - Powerpoint.

Here are steps to post your presentation to Webtalk:
    1. Complete presentation and save to your AFS space or TEMP or WORK Directory on C: in labs.
    2. Go to Course Widgets  page,  then to PRR475 Webtalk,  then the Slide Shows conversations
    3. Select View New or View All to see postings and then Post your own byh filling in the form
    4. Enter brief title of show, ignore message box, click Upload button
    5. Ignore message again, enter brief title for the Link text (replace "Click here to get posted file"), choose Microsoft Powerpoint for file type and then  Browse to where you saved the slide show file. Click Upload the File button.
    6. Preview your message and then click the Post Message button.
    7. Check Webtalk to see if it works properly - should be able to click on link and open file in Powerpoint.
 
 



Exercise  Topic Lab Due Resources
1 Lab Orientation Aug 30   Lab1.htm
2 Web browsing/resources Sep 6 Sep 13 labex2.htm

MSU Computer training Modules (CBT)- Run Excel Basics 

 

3 Excel 1: Basics Sep 13 Sep 20 labex3.doc, prr475compskills0.xls
ex3grade.xls, ex3hcma.xls
wtavg.xls,
absolute addresses
excel5.doc
4 Excel 2: Applications, Charts Sep 20 Sep 27 labex4.htm, lab4data.xls
Cbtraining  Excel Intermediate
5 Questionnaire formatting in WORD.   Mailmerge in word 

Questionnaire design exercise B1. - draft due Oct 2, final Oct 10.

Sep 27 Oct 4 labex5.doc
StateParkSurvey.doc
VisitorSurvey.doc
SurveyCoverLetter.doc
VisitorNames.xls
Sample questionnaires: Marina 
OldsClassic, topic outlines Part V. 
6 Needs Assessment - downloading data Sep 27 Oct 4  labex6.xls
datalinks475.htm
7 Sampling Oct 11  Oct 18  labex7.doc
 sample.xls
8 NO LAB - review for exam Oct 18 Catch up any missing labs
9 Excel 3: Database applications  Oct 25 Nov 1 labex8db.doc, data475.xls
Optional: cbtraining-access
10 Introduction to SPSS Nov 1 SPSS99.doc,   HCMA Study
11 Statistics in SPSS Nov 8 Nov 17 hcma96.sav - must open from SPSS
Exercise 11- SPSS99.doc
12 Finish SPSS, catch up Nov 15 Nov22 mathrefresh.doc
13 Optional LAB/ Powerpoint Nov 22   Powerpoint.
14 Powerpoint Nov 27 Dec 6  
15 Review Dec 6    Final Paper
Final Exam: DEC 15: 7:45-9:45 a.m.

Section 1 - WED  12:40 pm to 1:30pm
Section 2 - WED 1:50 pm to 2:40pm

You may find the resource files for each week in the table above. If machine in lab is configured properly, you can simply click on hyperlinks below to load a word or excel document. If  Netscape/IE are configured for this application you will get a Warning message about security hazard - check the Open it option and file will open in WORD, EXCEL etc. If Browser isn't configured on this machine, it will indicate an "Unknown file type" and ask what to do with it - select the "Pick App" button, then Browse button - you must point to the appropriate "exe file" to open this file type - In labs the Office applications are on the J-drive - browse to J:/Office97/cddata/Office subdirectory and choose the appropriate office program - word.exe for doc files, excel.exe for xls files, etc. If working at home you would point to the applications likely on your C: drive in the Programs folder - wherever you installed Office. If you don't have word and excel at home you can't open these files. Load Powerpoint presentations from Netscape/IE in the same way.


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Week 1. Introduction to Microlabs. We will provide an orientation to the microlabs including use of AFS space, loading various applications, introductions to Windows 98, Windows Explorer, Pilot or Netscape e-mail, the course web pages, and MSU electronic resources (Magic2, Proquest, etc.) .

Exercise 1 : Using library, textbooks and electronic resources (Magic, Proquest,...) find three articles covering evaluation in parks, recreation and tourism. Also complete the on-line microcomputer skills form (#1 below)..

Week of August 28

1. Complete PRR 475 Computer Skills Form.

2.  Familiarize yourself with NR 218 Micro-labs and AFS space.

3. Order Trochim text or the access to Knowledge Base web site on-line.  Register at:   http://www.atomicdogpublishing.com/
                 Choose Student section at the top.
                 Enter Course ID:  2110405900080  for section 1
                Change last two digits to:   81 for section 2 and 82 for section 3.
    Check bookstores for an Excel or Office 97 for Dummies type reference book.
4. Familiarize yourself with Electronic Library Resources at MSU library - Magic, Proquest Direct, others.
   Exercise: Find article by Arch Woodside in Journal of Travel Research (Fall 1990) using Proquest, look at Acrobat version.
Week 2: Surfing the web and using browser. This week we will practice finding information on the web and printing, copying, or downloading it into other applications (WORD, EXCEL, etc.). We will provide some tips on using search engines and direct you to some good sites to start with. Exercise 2 : Browse the web using search engines and suggested sites. Find three web sites that you find useful for this course. Turn in one page with the URL's for the three sites and a short paragraph identifying the site and explaining what can be found there. Try to find one site in each of the following categories a) how to do evaluations, course-type material, b) an organization site with reports and data useful for evaluation, c) a site with comprehensive data useful for evaluations. We will show you how to save and annotate your links in a web page and then how to post your links to class WEbTalk in VUWidgets.

Try several search engines and read tips on searching at one of these. e.g.  Netscape guide to using search engines.

Here's one that searches 4 popular engines simultaneously:   http://all4one.com/index.phtml


Begin browsing some evaluation and research web sites: Next week we will do more surfing and create a web page with some annotated links.
    I've dumped a few links below to get you started.
 

  • American Evaluation Assoc. Guiding principles for evaluators
  • General Accounting Office (GAO) - check numerous reports available here including guidebooks on various evaluation topics.
  •  Vice President Gore's National Partnership For Reinventing Government  Balancing Measures: Best Practices in Performance Management
  •  Index Rates Satisfaction With Government Services
  •  Appendix IV: National Park Service GPRA Process and Terminology
  • Am Rec Coalition home page
  • Wilderness Planning Training Module
  • Community Tourism Assessment Handbook
  •  Hypertext Model Research Paper - Paul Smith,
  • Backing up to find more stuff : one good web site often has other good information nearby that may not be linked if you come in to a site somehwhere in the middle. The URL for the model research paper is : http://www.uwm.edu/people/pcsmith/HMRP/usergide.htm. To see what else might be here drop the end of the URL and try http://www.uwm.edu/people/pcsmith/.  He has some other good papers and guides on the web and this trick is also useful in finding out whose web site you are at. You can simply edit the URL in the browser's URL box at top.
    Week3.  We'll be covering Excel for next 2-3 weeks.   Beginners who want a  systematic introduction to Excel should try the cbtraining modules, buy one of the Learning Excel paperbacks (e.g. Excel for Dummies) and go through it step by step, or work with another student who can help you. Remember the goal isn't to complete the exercises and get a grade - it is to learn how to use a spreadsheet program. Don't be shy about asking for help - instructors or other students.  These skills are something you LEARN, moreso than something we TEACH.  Here's a guide to the files for help with Excel for this week. You'll find all these files in the labs99 course subdirectory. This week you should master opening and saving files in Excel, moving around the spreadsheet, entering formulas, relative vs absolute addresses, copying and pasting formulas, and formatting tools.
    labex3.doc, - a word document covering Excel basics - read this for a systematic introduction to Excel,
    ex3grade.xls, - exercise 3.1 - with worked out solution. Pracice in setting up a spreadsheet, formulas, copying and pasting.
    ex3hcma.xls - exercise 3.2  - practice in formatting tools, formatting a table in Excel.
    wtavg.xls, - help with weighted averages (for last part of exercise 3.1)
    absolute addresses - help with using relative vs absolute addresses in Excel formulas
    cbTraining module for beginners - Microsoft Office 97: Beginning Excel 97

    Week 4: Charting in Excel. This week we will learn how to create charts in Excel. The cbtraining Intermediate Excel module has a fairly complete treatment of charting. You should master how to create a chart from data already on an Excel spreadsheet, know how to set up your own data in Excel for charting, and be able to choose an appropriate chart type for a given problem. Remember -- charts, like tables,  should be able to stand alone and be understandable - this means completely labeling the chart and including a suitable title. See table for exercise and practice file. labex4.htm .  Also practice charts from HCMA and grading exercises from previous week.  Here are some more charting tips and practice exercises. Microsoft Office 97: Intermediate Excel 97 - cbTraining module with graphing features for background.

    Week 5: Formatting questionnaires in WORD and using mailmerge. You have two separate but interrelated exercises. From lecture, you will develop a questionnaire in groups and then format it nicely (Questionnaire design exercise B1.) . In labs you have a practice formatting exercise (labex5.doc) and we will also introduce Word's mail merge featuresSee exercise and files in table above. A couple of sample questionnaires you may want to examine are also posted there. Many others on web. This week you will also begin development of  your own questionnaire by identifying the study population and information needed for a given problem. (Exercise 9.) We will do this exercise in small groups. First,  you should identify the study problem and develop a list of information needed (variables) to complete the evaluation or answer the research questions. Next, develop a draft of a questionnaire to measure the variables. Share drafts with members of your group and produce a final instrument.

    Week 6: Downloading data from web. This week we will practice downloading data from web. We will retrieve Michigan population data by age and apply it to recreation participation rates to estimate days of participation in a particular area. The exercise will show you how to convert text to tables in Excel when it is in fixed or delimited form. As a secondary benefit, you'll see a number of useful comprehensive data sites on WWW.  The exercise is an Excel spreadsheet labex6.xls . Also spend some time browsing data sites on the web - some links on the Excel spreadsheet, others at datalinks475.htm .
    Here's link to county level tourism spending data for Michigan on my economic impact page . Try copying the HTML table here from Netscape and IE - http://www.msu.edu/course/prr/840/econimpact/michigan/michtsm97.htm . Note that copy to Excel works in IE but not in Netscape.

    Week 7: We will return to Excel to do some sampling exercises. These have been automated in an Excel workbook named sample.xls using some of Excel's macro programming features. Your assignment is to develop sampling plans for estimating use of a park. You will choose samples of hours to count visitors using  judgement, simple random sampling, and a stratified sample.

    Week 8: In lab we will demonstrate Excel's database features using a Michigan marina database Marinadb.xls.   Your exercise is at the end of the handout labex8db.doc. You will be practicing a few database procedures using two other sample databases - one of registered boats in Michigan from DNR boat registration list and the other a Michigan county database with a varierty of recreation and tourism-related variables. You will need the file Data475.xls for this exercise. Keep practicing some of the basic procedures in Excel. You should now understand about absolute addresses when copying formulas (using $'s).  You also will likely need to know how and when to use the Paste Special procedure instead of a normal Paste.  When copying a formula, sometimes you simply want the current value of the formula - in this case you choose the Paste Special (you'll find it on right mouse button after a Copy) command and choose to paste only values. Note you could also just paste formats and the Paste Special procedure is also how you transpose data (switch rows and columns) on a spreadsheet. We'll also review the exercises from last week in lab and go over any parts you are having trouble with.

    Week 9: No LAB midterm exam - use lab time to catch-up, get special help, or review for exam

    Weeks 10-12  - SPSS survey data analysis - review HCMA survey methods and questionnaire and brush up on your statistics.
    Try SPSS Tutorials if you have time. SPSS is in the math apps section of Start menu programs in labs. We will spend three weeks mastering basics of SPSS program and using it to carry out hypothesis testing and basic survey data analysis. Exercise is to carry out a mini-analysis of HCMA survey data and to prepare a short report of results. You will also practice assembling a research report here - preparing useful tables or figures and including a well organized report that summaries the problem/questions, analysis methods used, presents results, and discusses implications for HCMA. Audience for report is HCMA management. Analysis should include at least one hypothesis test, but present results in a way that HCMA can understand.

    Weeks of Nov 1-15. We will spend three weeks learning and applying the SPSS statistical package to typical recreation survey data. First week will  introduce the SPSS Statistical package for social sciences and HCMA survey dataset. We will be analyzing a Visitor Survey of Huron Clinton Metro-Parks users. See HCMA Study for background.  Review HCMA questionnaire (handed out) and codebook in spss99.doc.  This file also has the instructions for running SPSS and the exercise.  The data file is hcma96.sav and is located in labs99 subdirectory. You must open this from within SPSS. May try tutorials in SPSS or begin practice exercises in the spss99.doc file. Exercise is to conduct your own mini-analysis of this dataset using SPSS and write it up in a couple pages. Exercise due Nov 22.  First week we will introduce SPSS, next week demonstrate hypothesis testing and you will have the following week to work on assignment - complete before Thanksgiving.

    For students having difficulty with this exercise. You must read the handouts,  do the practice exercises, and study the HCMA materials. This exercise draws on a variety of skills and they won't all come together without some effort.  If you still have difficulty interpreting a frequency table, the mean of a 0-1 variable, or a percentage expressed in exponential form (5.3 * E -02), or you can't interpret SPSS tables for FREQ, DESC, CROSSTAB, or Compare MEANS read  math refresher/SPSSsamples. I should say STUDY it! You won't understand most of this with a casual reading. Some of you need to go back to basics - redo the steps below.

    1. Study HCMA questionnaire and codeboook in detail and read HCMA study background. Examine my brief HCMA report on web to see what a report should look like and also try to figure out what SPSS procedures were run to obtain tables and figures reported in HCMA Study.  Can you repeat any of these results yourself? You should have good understanding of HCMA study before you are ready to identify a mini-analysis you want to do.
    2. Read the green handouts covering SPSS from beginning to end, do the Practice exercises there again and make sure you understand the SPSS procedures and how to interpret results from FREQ, DESC, CROSSTABS, and COMPARE MEANS. Practice as many different analyses as needed to understand the procedures. Re-read the handout and rerun practice exercises until you feel you understand them.
    3. Study the statistics handout for more information on hypothesis testing and chi square and test for difference in means. The handout should help you in interpreting stats. We have looked at sample tables for each of the 4 procedures and I've explained how to interpret them in both lab and lecture. If you still don't understand how to interpret a FREQ, DESC, or CROSSTAB table, you should review this again in a basic statistics book. Read  math refresher/SPSSsamples and try to replicate each of the SPSS procedures in here.
    4. Finally,  use tools you have learned (I hope) in Excel and Word to prepare a finished paper. If necessary, go back to exercise 3 where we formatted the HCMA visit table and apply the skills there to any new tables. You may even want to do a chart using either Excel or SPSS. Most of you have been quite sloppy in assembling tables, charts and reports - not paying attention to details or making use of formatting tools in Excel or Word. Yes, this takes a little time, but that's how you learn it. Final papers will be evaluated on format, so start with this exercise.
    5. If you've done all of the above and still are having problems, see me for help.

    Optional Labs (Based on Time and interest)

    MS Access
    HTML and web authoring
    Powerpoint presentation software
     



    Other Exercises/Assignments

    Exercise # A1: Find an empirical research or evaluation article/report in an area of interest to you. Turn in a one page summary following the guidelines below and a copy of the article.  Before selecting the article you want to review, spend some time browsing the contents of several journals (current and back issues) and other research and evaluation collections, including on-line materials (e.g. ProQuest). to get a feel for the published literature on research and evaluation. You may find it interesting to look at research and evaluation studies applied to social programs other than parks, recreation and tourism, e.g. health, education, crime, public safety.  Note- if using Proquest for articles that are not available in PDF, also find the article in the library and make a good copy.   Due September 12.

    A. Suggested journals to get you started: (see which of these are available on-line).

    Recreation: Journal of Leisure Research, Leisure Sciences, Leisure Studies, J. of Park and Recreation Administration, Therapeutic Recreation Journal. The last two have more evaluation and applied research type articles.
    Tourism: Journal of Travel Research, Annals of Tourism Research, Tourism Management.
    Evaluation Journals: Evaluation Review, Evaluation and Program Planning, Policy Analysis, Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, New Directions for Program Evaluation.

    You will also find research and evaluation studies in most applied research journals and in collections like the Evaluation Studies Review Annual.

    B. After browsing the literature a bit, select a suitable article that interests you. Choose an empirical study that reports data and actually evaluates something, versus one that simply discusses evaluation or evaluation methods and the author's opinions. This shouldn’t be a newpaper or popular magazine article. Copy the article and hand in a copy with your summary.

    C. Prepare a one page summary of the Article. Read the article through quickly and then re-read as necessary to answer the questions below. Not all questions may apply to your article and you may not fully understand some of the technical points (we will be doing more with these articles later in the course), but try to glean as much as you can about the topic of the article, its methods, and its conclusions/recommendations.

    Number the items from one to eight and address each one in a word, sentence, or at most one paragraph. Hand in brief answers to just the first eight items.

    1. Write the complete citation for the article using APA format. (See APA style manual or brief summary on back)
    2. Is this a research article, an evaluation study, both or neither ? (if neither, please choose another article).
    3.  Summarize the problem in 25 words or less. What is the research problem? Briefly characterize what is being evaluated. Describe the study in your own words.
    4. What methods are used? Does the study use a survey, experiment, secondary data, qualitative methods, observation,...?
    5. What is the study population? WHO is the study about? What is the study area (geographic scope)?
    6. Measurement. What are the key variables or types of variables that are measured/reported? For an evaluation study, identify the evaluation criteria and how are they measured? For a research study, what characteristics of the study population are described or explained?
    7. Analysis. Briefly characterize the analysis. Without getting into technical details, describe what was done with the data. Usually this can be gleaned quickly by inspecting tables and figures reported.
    8. What is the key conclusion(s) in 25 words or less (if any).

    Other questions to consider: (For class discussion):

    9. Can you identify any serious limitations, problems, or sources of error in the study. Do you believe the results and how widely do you think these results hold (generalizability). Limitations are often mentioned by the author, or you may surface some not mentioned. Evaluate the article.
    10. Application/Implications. What are the most important applications of this study, implications for managers, researchers, or whomever the article is aimed at.
    11. Generalizability. How widely do you feel the study results may be applied to other populations, facilities, areas, etc? Other than the direct clients of the study, who else can benefit from the results and how? Can you think of ways you might use the results of the study?
    12. Examine the format of the article - style, section headings, use of tables and figures, method of citing references.

    APA Style - Selected Formats

    Article in Journal.
    Burton, T.L., & Jackson, E.L. (1990). On the road to where we're going: Leisure studies in the future. Society and Leisure, 13, 207-227.

     If journal paginated by issue put issue number in parentheses, eg. 13(2), 1-12.

    Book.
    Tull, D.S., & Hawkins D.I. (1994). Marketing research: measurement & method (6th ed.). New York: MacMillan.

    Chapter in edited book.
    Hurst, F. (1987). Enroute surveys. In J.R. Ritchie & C.R. Goeldner (Eds), Travel, Tourism and Hospitality Research; A Handbook for Managers. (pp. 401-415). New York: John Wiley and Sons.

    Proceedings.
    Fridgen, J.D., & Allen, D.J. (1982). Proceedings, Michigan Tourism: How Can Research Help?. East Lansing, Michigan: Department of Park and Recreation Resources, Michigan State University.

    Article in Proceedings.
    McIntosh, R.W. (1982).  Michigan tourism - A historical perspective. In. J.D. Fridgen & D.J. Allen (Eds.) Proceedings, Michigan Tourism: How Can Research Help?. (pp. 23-26). East Lansing, Michigan: Department of Park and Recreation Resources, Michigan State University.

    You can find an APA Style tipsheet on WWW at http://www.gasou.edu/psychweb/tipsheet/apacrib.htm
     


    Exercise 2 - WEB searching  - Due September 13

    Use search engines and links to identify three useful web sites for the course. Give the URL for each site and a brief description of the contents of the site including the organization or individual who maintains the site.

    You may turn the exercise in as a WORD document or as a WEB page. Use the tips from lab number two to copy links and information from a web page into a WORD document or to a Web page of your own. Use the course VUWidgets link to upload the WORD document or HTML file to instructors. Also print a hard copy (one page)  to hand in.



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    Exercise A5: Questionnaire design

    Design a one page questionnaire for a survey of one of the following populations:

    Procedure: We will form groups of 5-6 students to work on the exercise together. The group will collectively identify study objectives, population, and information needed. Each member will then independently draft a one page written questionnaire. These will be exchanged with others in your group by posting them to Course WebTalk (Questionnaire design topic) or making copies (by October 2). You will critique each other's instruments and then develop a final one (this can be done collectively or individually) by October 10. Final ones will be posted to WebTalk. Labs on Sept 27 will cover using WORD to format questionnaires.

    In- Class Group exercise

    First clarify/define the population you have chosen,  as necessary. In all cases assume you are developing a self-administered questionnaire - either mailed or distributed to individuals and completed in a written form.

    (1). First formulate some specific objectives, questions, or hypotheses about the selected population. Put yourself in a management, planning or evaluation position to help identify useful questions. Then identify the information you will need to gather in your survey to answer the questions or test the hypotheses.  Consider background variables, socio-economic information, participation and trip characteristics, and other cognitive (what do they know?), affective (how do they feel about...?), and behavioral (what do they do?) information. Your "mini-study" should include:
     a. A descriptive component - pick at least three characteristics of the population that you will describe, i.e., report frequencies, percentages, averages, etc.  example - determine the percentage of visitors who are male (be a bit more creative than this please), average number of visits per year,….
     b. An explanatory component - formulate at least one hypothesis about a relationship between two (or more) variables. State your hypothesis and identify the variables you must measure to test it. Note that you may use some of the same variables from (a). example - hypothesize that males are more likely than females to participate in a given activity, or approve of a particular policy. Try to think up some meaningful relationships to study.
     On the attached form, define the population, state your objectives, your hypothesis, and identify the variables you will need to measure.

    Individual work

    (2). Design a one page questionnaire to gather the above information. Assume this will be a self-administered questionnaire distributed to a random sample of your population.  Prepare the one page questionnaire as if this were the instrument to be used in the survey. That is, pay attention to instructions, wording, question types, formatting, question sequencing, layout, and overall design of your questionnaire. Assume the cover letter will be drafted by someone else.
    After completing the questionnaire (see part 2 below) , identify which questions (by number) are measuring which variables, and indicate the scale or level of measurement for each (nominal, ordinal, interval, ratio).

    TURN IN TWO PAGES TO INSTRUCTOR. First page the covering part 1 (complete the form below), second page the actual survey instrument. Keep in mind your study population, topic, and type of survey (self-administered instrument) in designing the questions. Hand in a copy of your draft instrument on October 3 - also make copies for everyone in your group or post to Webtalk. Final questionnaires are  DUE  October 10.
     

    Format for first page

    NAME: ____________________________               PAGE 1 for Questionnaire Design Exercise

    STUDY POPULATION :
     
     
     
     
     

    RESEARCH OBJECTIVES (at least one descriptive, one a hypothesis/relationship)

     1.
     
     

     2.
     
     

     3.
     
     

    VARIABLES TO MEASURE

    VARIABLE     Question No (s)        Measurement Scale
     
     



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    Final Term paper :Term paper: Each student will complete a final term paper or project.  These may be carried out individually or in small groups (when appropriate). The project may take the form of a web page, Powerpoint presentation, access database, Excel spreadsheet, evaluation/research proposal, case study,  literature review, secondary data analysis, or evaluation/research report. Topic must be related to evaluation or research in the park, recreation or tourism field or evaluation research methods more generally.

    A short (2-3 page) proposal for the paper/project must be turned in by October 17 for instructor approval. (Deadline extended to November 1).
    Final paper should be roughly 8-12 pages double spaced, not counting attachments. The methods section should be at least half of the proposal. DUE - Last day of class. December 10.
     

    Some ideas for Term papers/projects

    1. An Evaluation or Research Study Proposal - develop a proposal/study plan to evaluate a program of your choice or to study some research question.  See Topic II in Topic Outlines for details on the format of a proposal or study plan. You would define the program or research problem,   propose measures and measurement procedures, study population and sampling plan, and describe overall study design. You may extend the questionnaire exercise into a piece of a study proposal.  See proposal guidelines below for format.

    2. Review research/evaluation literature on a given problem or method.  Pick a topic and review a handful of the best studies/references covering the topic. Examples: measures of recreation effectiveness, use of focus groups in recreation and tourism, measuring visitors,  formative evaluation methods,  guidelines for recreation or travel surveys,  research on psychological, social or economic benefits of recreation, review the research or evaluation programs of a particular agency (e.g. NPS), the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA), Gore's reinventing Government web site.

    3. Review a major research or evaluation study.  This should be a major single empirical study of 60 pages or more that gives considerable attention to methods. Your review should summarize the problem, approach and key findings along with your assessment of the study's strengths, weaknesses and implications.

    4. Conduct a small empirical study.   This could be an observational study,  tackling a use estimation problem, conducting a small survey or focus group, carrying out analysis from secondary data, or a simple experiment. This option can be done in small groups so you have multiple data gatherers. For example, repeat/update the 1978 MSU Sports Interests Survey using a random or convenience sample, estimate number of users or characteristics of users of Lansing Riverfront trail, any MSU or local recreation facility, a public park, private business, evaluation of an MSU or local event, focus group of IM users, small set of in-depth interviews with managers, users, students,....

    5. Computer Projects.  Expand any of the computer exercises/skills into a term paper. For example, develop web page(s) covering a particular topic, or a more comprehensive set of organized and annotated links on a particular theme (should be related to research methods/evaluation). Develop an Excel spreadsheet, Access database, etc. for a particular problem. Develop a PowerPoint presentation or web pages on any of the above topics.

    6.  Data Analysis . Use SPSS or Excel to carry out analyses of an existing survey dataset or secondary data. Faculty have a variety of recent survey datasets and others are available on web. There is extensive secondary data on the web that could be analyzed and some organizations may also welcome your help in analyzing some of their customer data. You could also evaluate brochures, web sites, park facilities etc. using a set of standards/criteria  - e.g. accessibility standards,  playground safety standards, design standards,…. You might do these in small groups to have 3 independent "raters" or judges.

    7. Review of Evaluation Programs of an Organization: Pick a local organization and review their approaches to evaluation. Interview key people within the organization. What data do they gather regularly, what do they do with it, what kinds of evaluation and research studies do they conduct, recommend how they could improve their evaluation efforts. Propose one or more evaluation studies.

    8. Review or Comparison of research or Evaluation methods. Compare and evaluate different approaches to community recreation surveys, tourism surveys, park visitor studies, evaluating service quality, evaluation in TR, advertising evaluation, importance-performance analysis, benefit-cost, cost-effectiveness, feasibility studies, standards, recreation benefits, impacts, .... Develop model questionnaires or procedures for a standard survey approach. Review a special set of methods and their applications in PRTR such as focus groups, experiments, case studies,
     

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    Evaluation Proposal or Study Plan FORMAT

    A. PROBLEM : Work from broad problem down to the focus of the proposed study. Provide background on the problem or program and show where the proposed study fits into a program of research or evaluation studies. Use objective language  - to test vs to prove, to assess or evaluate vs to show or demonstrate that the program is effective. Keep in mind the client for study. Who will use results for what kinds of decisions?
    Evaluation - Define the program to be evaluated by reviewing written documents (program proposals, plans, budget, organization chart, program history,...) , talking with people (program administrators, managers,  participants,  & others), and observing (observe various parts of the program in operation).

    B. OBJECTIVES: A concise, specific listing. Usually two or three clear objectives is sufficient. The objectives guide the rest of the proposal  and your final report, as methods and results should be indicated for each objective. DO NOT list methods or procedures as objectives ( e.g. to conduct a survey of visitors).  Evaluation - Study objectives should indicate the criteria by which the program will be evaluated (prioritize these). Suchman's categories are a useful guide  to general evaluation criteria (effort, performance, adequacy, efficiency, process, equity). E.g. assess the benefits and costs of program;  assess effectiveness, performance, adequacy, etc;  identify who benefits, who pays for program.

    C. LITERATURE REVIEW or BACKGROUND.  This is the place for more extended discussion of literature and background for the study. It is more common in research studies than evaluations. "Literature" can include research articles, previous studies, internal documents and plans,  as well as more popular magazine and newspaper articles. This section of the proposal demonstrates you have done your homework and are familiar enough with the topic/program to study it. Key here is to review related research and theory, not everything. In program evaluations, this is good place to provide a more extensive history of the program, to review previous evaluation studies of this or related programs,  and to discuss key concepts, theories or research/evaluation approaches that are relevant.

    D. METHODS: Describe the procedures to be carried out to achieve each of the study objectives. Procedures cover what you  intend to do to whom, when, where  and how. Also cover why by linking procedures to your objectives. In longer proposals you may also justify your procedures by discussing the advantages and disadvantages of alternative approachess. Typical sub-sections for procedures:
    * Study Population
    * Sampling Procedures
    * Definition of key concepts
    * Measurement procedures
    * Overall study design, controlling for error
    * Field Procedures
    * Data Processing
    * Analysis
    * Reporting of results
    * Limitations and potential sources of error

    E. ATTACHMENTS. Budget, Timeline, Questionnaires, Maps, Program documents,  References


    Exercises from Previous Years. may try these for practice or extra credit

    Exercise 12: Lansing Trail Use Estimates

    (For this exercise you need the Excel file TRAIL96.XLS and the handouts describing the Trail observation procedures and data. There also is a HINTS page for completing this)

    PURPOSE: This exercise will provide further practice in using formulas and Pivot tables in Excel to compute some simple statistics. It also follows up on sampling exercise to illustrate the procedure for expanding from a sample of observations to the population using either a simple random sample or stratified sample. The data were gathered by previous PRR 475 students using observations along the Lansing Riverfront Trail. We will use the 1996 observations.

    Using the 30 observations at Aurelius and Kalamazoo access points on Lansing Riverfront Trail (in Trail96.xls file on Count96 page), answer the following questions:

    1. How much use did the eastern section of the trail receive in October of 1996?
    2. Where and when was use heaviest? How was use distributed across the two access sites and by time of day and day of week?
    3.  Who uses the trail? Report the percentage of use by type of use, user characteristics, etc.

    MATERIALS:
     a.  HINTS page suggests how to do this exercise. Try it without consulting the hints first.
    b. Original handout on trail summarizes purposes and study approach.  Note especially the sampling strata - only 30 of  the planned observations were completed.
    c. Observation form(s)  including observation instructions, coding of variables and how use was operationally defined and measured. The data file has the hourly sums that were entered on the final "Summary Counts" form plus the variables in box at top of the INSTRUCTION sheet.
    d.  Hourly observation counts. Available in an Excel file available in the course AFS space --  msu/course/prr/475/Stynes/trail96.xls. Use the 1996 data by selecting the 1996 tab at bottom. After completing 1996, you are welcome to try other years or combining data across years. We did this in 1995 and 1993 also.

    Format of your report: (Shouldn’t take more than 2 pages).

    1. For each of the three questions /objectives, briefly explain how you generated the answers - call this section METHODS.
    2. For each question/objective summarize the answer in a brief text,  table, figure or combination of these - put these in a RESULTS section.