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Tools for Analysis: Using Microcomputers

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 May 2020

Stuart Nagel*
University of Illinois


A number of article explain how to useful microcomputer can be for teaching social science research methods, particularly statistical analysis, because students can quickly obtain output from archived or inputted data and experiment with changing inputs and procedures to gain insights into various aspects of statistical analysis. Instructors combine this with lectures and discuss what is or should happen, and help students organize data, draft reports, retrieve information, and interact with others. This article describes a way microcomputers can be used to teach public policy substance, rather than methods or office practice, especially involving controversial issues.

Research Article
Copyright © American Political Science Association 1974

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1. On Using Microcomputers as a teaching tool, see Kraemer, Kenneth, “Curriculum Recommendations for Computers in Public Management Education,” (NASPAA, 1984)Google Scholar; Weisberg, Herbert F., “Microcomputers in Political Science,” (Summer, 1983)Google Scholar; Chen, Fiona, “Teaching Computer Application in Public Administration,” (Eastern Washington University, School of Public Affairs, 1984)Google Scholar; and Nagel, S., “Microcomputers and Public Policy Analysis,” in Calista, Don (ed.), Microcomputers and Public Productivity (Special issue of the Public Productivity Review, 1985).CrossRefGoogle Scholar

2. On the Policy/Goal Percentaging software, see Radcliff, Benjamin, “Comparing Multiple Criteria Decision-Making Programs,4 Social Science Microcomputer Review (1986)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Nagel, S., “Policy/Goal Percentaging Analysis: A Decision-Aiding Program,3 Social Science Microcomputer Review 243 (1985)Google Scholar; and Nagel, S., Microcomputers, Evaluation Problems, and Policy Analysis (Sage, 1986)Google Scholar.

3. Background material exists on teaching from a perspective of societal goals to be achieved for choosing the best alternative, combination, or allocation. See, for example, the opening chapter to Nagel, S., Public Policy: Goals, Means and Methods (St. Martin's, 1984)Google Scholar and the accompanying Instructor's Manual. Also see Nagel, S., “Using Microcomputers and Policy/Goal Percentaging for Teaching Policy Analysis and Public Policy,” in Bergerson, Peter and Nedwek, Brian (eds.). Teaching Public Admnistration (Programs in Public Policy Analysis and Administration, St. Louis University, 1985).Google Scholar