Spring 2021 - EDUC 817 G031

Policy Processes (3)

Class Number: 3797

Delivery Method: Remote


  • Course Times + Location:

    Location: TBA

  • Instructor:

    Daniel Laitsch
    Office: SRYC 5220



This course examines three interrelated aspects of policy studies as a critical function of the educational leadership role: conceptual and theoretical foundations concerning policy, policy actors, and policy processes; current research in the field; and topical issues and problems. It also considers social, economic and political contexts (e.g. technologization, corporatization, pluralism) and how they affect education.


Course Dates:
January 15, 22, 29
February 5, 12, 26
March 4, 12, 19, 26
April 9, 16

Course Times:
6:00PM - 8:00 PM

Online via Zoom

Course Rationale:
This course is required for completion of the MEd in Educational Leadership.

This course examines three interrelated aspects of policy studies as a critical function of the educational leadership role: conceptual and theoretical foundations concerning policy, policy actors, and policy processes; current research in the field; and topical issues and problems. It also considers social, economic and political contexts and how they affect education.

Learning Goals and Outcomes (Policy Processes)
Goal/Outcome Evaluation Items
Gain a broad view and developed understanding of current issues in education policy through theory, research, policy, and practice.
Develop your understanding of tenants, strengths, and limitations of policy processes
a) Understand the principles of policy analysis.


b) Understand the principles of policy design.
c) Understand the principles of policy implementation.
d) Understand the principles of policy evaluation.
Identify key stages and aspects of the policy cycle.
Develop an understanding of education policy as situated in BC. Personal Policy Framework; Policy Analysis Section; Policy Conclusion Section
Survey a range of policy frameworks (Neoliberalism; Social Justice; Welfare; Feminism; etc.) used to interrogate policy Readings; Personal Policy Framework Essay; Policy Analysis Section
Thinking and Being
Engage in self-reflection and self-critique regarding your own policy framework assumptions and explore the limits of your knowledge, thinking and practice. Consider the frameworks of others in understanding the diversity of approaches to policy development and application.

In class discussions

Personal Policy Framework essay

Leading and Doing
Explore the role of assessment in the policy and practice of education.

Weekly quizzes and exams

Analyze policy processes in your practice as a leader. Personal Policy Framework essay
Apply a policy framework to an issue in your practice.  Personal Policy Framework essay
Develop policy recommendations relevant to a theoretical framework and action research projects. Policy Analysis Section and Policy Conclusion Section
a) Identify key policy actors, coalitions, positions, and debates within the policy area, as appropriate
b) Consider how the policy will interact with education organizations and systems, as appropriate
c) Consider the ethical issues associated with the policy proposal, as appropriate


  • Course Meetings 5%
  • Participation 5%
  • Weekly Reading Responses and Quizzes 20%
  • Policy Analysis Section 20%
  • Personal Policy Framework 20%
  • Policy Proposal 25%
  • Grade Application 5%


Course Meetings (5%): We will meet each week for up to an hour. We will use the first meeting to establish ground rules, confirm our schedule and policies. Meetings run two hours: hour 1-2: Class engagement, discussion, and touch base; hour 3: as needed—personal coaching, questions and answers, and advising regarding course content or program requirements. Attendance in hour three is generally offered as interests dictate and is not required (although there may be times our work from the first two hours bleeds into this space).

Participation (5%): You are expected to complete the required readings prior to each class session. Think critically about what you read and consider the connections between the readings. Your active and thoughtful participation in discussions will be part of your grade. You are expected to maintain a public presence on the course Web site, and post a short reflection or query on the readings through the discussion board. These are intended to be short informal posts that I can use to create discussion points for our meetings. Due weekly.

Weekly Reading Responses and Quizzes (20%): Each week one chapter is assigned for reading. There are three ways you can engage in this content:
a) Weekly engagement: You are asked to come to the weekly meetings with any questions you have about the readings. The goal is to ensure that you are best able to access the content of the reading, so questions are not required, but invited to clarify points in the readings. See the Gutenberg Method of Teaching for details.
b) Chapter responses: Each chapter includes a set of questions for consideration. You are invited to complete two or more items within each chapter to demonstrate engagement with the reading content. Reponses are due any time before the end of the course.
c) Chapter quizzes: Each week I will release a “quiz” that you can take to assess your understanding of the reading. You can use the results of the quiz to demonstrate your engagement with the reading content, use the results formatively for your own self-assessment, or ignore the quiz altogether and submit the Chapter responses. The quizzes are ungraded and open book, and can be taken as many times as you like until you get a score you are happy with. Reponses are due any time before the end of the course.

Policy Analysis Section (20%): In this paper you’ll examine a particular policy issue you find interesting (see Chapter 4 in text and Writing policy briefs). You will explore its origin, intent, and effects on the system (intended and/or unintended consequences, as appropriate) using published research and/or data.  You are asked to critically reflect on how the policy and research connects (or disconnects), and your own experiences and context, as well as how the policy plays out (and whether or to what extent it accomplishes its purpose). Due the 4th class or any time before the end of the course. 

Personal Policy Framework (20%): Policy designers work in political cultures expressing both overt and convert values (see Chapter 1 in the text). These political cultures consist of core beliefs we have regarding how society works, and therefore how policy functions. Frequently we may not even be aware of the assumptions we bring to policy development. Exploring your own dispositions and beliefs, as advanced through readings in this class, identify and critique your own policy framework and beliefs, including the strengths and weaknesses embedded within your belief system, and implications for you as a policy activist. Due the sixth class or any time before the end of the course.

Policy Proposal (25%): Identify a problem that exists in your context for which a policy solution could be applied. Choosing an appropriate policy framework, create a policy designed to address that problem. Walk your proposal through the policy cycle to explore its creation, potential application and implementation, through to evaluation and a timeline for review.  Due the last class meeting.

Grade Application (5%) Each student will be asked to meet with me and “apply” for a grade. Be prepared to present evidence in support of that application, based on your work in the online community, small group projects, individual writings, and other relevant artifacts.  Due any time before the end of the course.

Notes on deliverables: Papers are intended to be research-informed focused presentations. While there are no specific page requirements, papers will generally range between 1500 and 4500 words (approximately 3-8 single-spaced pages). That said, as authors of these papers you should tailor their length and content to best meet your desires as an author. Your target audience is policymakers, and as such the papers should be engaging and narrowly focused to accomplish your purpose, be that education or advocacy. See Food Security Communications Toolkit for more details and guidance. You can turn in papers at any time and revise in response to my comments as many times as you like, until you get a paper you are happy with. If you would rather demonstrate your learning in another way (such as through a web cast, presentation, or other format) please reach out to me and we can work out details for an alternative deliverable.






Policy theory and practice:

McKenzie, Brad and Wharf, Brian. (2016). Connecting Policy to Practice in the Human Services, 4th Edition. Don Mills, ON: Oxford University Press Canada. Available online:

ISBN: 978-0-19-901106-3

Policy Writing:

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (2011). Food Security Communications Toolkit. Rome, Italy: Author. Available: http://www.fao.org/3/a-i2195e.pdf

Lesson 4.1-4.3: Writing policy briefs http://www.fao.org/3/i2195e/i2195e03.pdf

Graduate Studies Notes:

Important dates and deadlines for graduate students are found here: http://www.sfu.ca/dean-gradstudies/current/important_dates/guidelines.html. The deadline to drop a course with a 100% refund is the end of week 2. The deadline to drop with no notation on your transcript is the end of week 3.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in spring 2021 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).