Integrative Questions

PART 1.  AN ESSAY.  You will develop a short essay to integrate and reflect on the  readings. Framing a Specific Inquiry into the materials – take a specific lens or issue to approach readings (you decide what lens to use).

  • The essay portion should have a methodological or epistemological theme or thesis—an easily detected, course- and relevant main point. State it at the start of your essay, along with a very brief organizational statement describing how the rest of the memo will proceed.  The identification of thesis and organizing map for your essay will appear in the first paragraph, and serve as your memo’s introduction. DO NOT annotate, summarize, or recapitulate the readings in these memos, but rather, pose (or better, “argue”) a sustained analytical point, citing the readings in APA style, and attaching a reference list. 
  • The thesis should then be developed and sustained through the entire essay; I do not want a little of this and a little of that. Sustain an argument or examination of something in detail, but situate it in context of the week’s reading, and try to mention each of the readings at some point (you do not have to give them equal attention, but your thesis should allow you to cite them all).
  • Then write a short conclusion.  The essay element of the assignment asks you to think in terms of elucidating common themes, concepts, theories and ideas, or arguing major points of contrast, contradiction, and omission among and between the authors you have read for the week. Think about what’s happening in today’s society and try to make sense of the readings in that context.
  • The memo is not a request for advice to self or others; write a letter on some other occasion. You could not possibly agree with all of the authors as they disagree with one another, so avoid “attaboys” as well. Instead, what are the authors advising or doing in the reading for the week and what do you have to say about it?
  • Make connections to and from the readings – This brief analytical memo should include only the most important and interesting points you gleaned from the assigned materials, offer an analytical assessment of these points, and/or identify how the theory is connected to the practice of public service administration and management.


  • Prepare and present two (2) carefully and formally worded how or why questions of an integrative nature. Neither compose rhetorical questions, which are dead ends, nor compose questions of fact, about which there is even less to discuss.  Instead, compose course-based academic questions you believe it is essential for students to discuss together.
  • You may substitute ONE crucial (and perfectly documented) quotation for one of the two questions per memo. If you use a quotation, explain in at least one complete sentence why you chose the quotation and deemed it worthy of discussion. [Helpful hint: “I thought it would be interesting because….(fill in the blank)…”, is fine; “I thought it would be interesting (period)”, is lame].
  • Studies of students who engage in deep learning note that these students avoid rote memorization and instead learn new knowledge and skills by processing their lectures, readings, and other experiences (Bain, 2012; Marton & Säljö, 1976). Students who do this organize information, identify the most important elements, and search for holes in their understanding. They also attempt to use new knowledge for higher order thinking by asking How, What if, and Why questions. Finally, they test their understanding with practice tests, peer feedback, and questions for their instructors.


  • In the third section of your memo, reflect upon the insights gained from your own experiences or readings, 
  • Connect the readings to a current event (practical insight)? What insight was gained? 

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