Summer Policy Research Institute 2020

In 2020, the Public Policy Center (PPC) introduced the Summer Policy Research Institute (SPRI), a 6-week program for University of Iowa undergraduate and graduate students with an interest in policy research. Twenty-eight students enrolled in this inaugural SPRI. The mission of SPRI is to develop a model for exposing students to academic research through a mentored, team-based experience. This program is part of the University’s Path Forward Strategic Plan Engagement Work Group initiative to provide more students with high-impact, meaningful experiences outside the classroom.

The institute is intended to enhance the research experience for students who are currently working with a faculty member on a research project and/or in a research lab, and supplement their experience through a cohort experience.

Participation in the Institute includes:

  • An appointment at the PPC as an Undergraduate or Graduate Research Fellow;
  • A weekly 1-hour seminar on introductory, policy research-related topics, plus discussion of assigned reading. Some possible topics include:
    • Research and the scientific method
    • Quantitative research basics
    • Qualitative research basics
    • Human subject research and protections and research ethics
    • Communicating policy research effectively
    • Data analysis
  • An instructor guided, 1-hour weekly sharing of research activities among student peers to provide feedback and ideas;
  • Opportunities to meet with UI Leadership about their own introduction to and experiences in research
  • Development of a policy brief that will be published via the PPC’s website and network of collaborators (for those whose research is appropriate for a policy brief)

Students have the option of enrolling with an acknowledgement of their participation on their transcript or with credit hours, depending on the interest of the student.

The Summer Policy Research Institute (SPRI) is supported by the Public Policy Center and by additional funding provided by the University of Iowa to support the implementation of the Path Forward Strategic Plan. SPRI is part of the development of IowaRISE, a program to engage more students in Research, Internships, Service learning, and civic Engagement, which will benefit our communities and increase student success before and after graduation. If you're interested in participating in SPRI 2021, please let us know!

SPRI Videos

Seminar Series #1 — June 22

Topics covered:
  • Using the scientific method
  • Interdisciplinary policy research

Seminar Series #2 — June 29

Topics covered:
  • Choosing a topic
  • Writing a policy brief
  • Conducting replication research

Seminar Series #3 — July 6

Topics covered:
  • Measuring concepts
  • Descriptive statistics
  • Introduction to hypothesis testing

Seminar Series #4 — July 13

Topics covered:
  • Characteristics and objectives of qualitative research
  • Types of interviews

Seminar Series #5 — July 20

Topics covered:
  • Ethical considerations when studying human subjects
  • Design and function of institutional review boards

Seminar Series #6 — July 26

Topics covered:
  • Communicating with non-scientific audiences
  • Motivated reasoning in public policymaking

Data Analysis Pop-Up Session

Health Disparities and the Affordable Care Act