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Facult des sciences sociales | Faculty of Social Sciences

Theories of Public Policy

PAP 6111 PAP 9311
Jennifer Wallner
Fall, 2015

Class schedule:


FSS 7003

Professors office hours:

By Appointment
Office FSS 7040


Any questions sent by email should receive a response within two business days or
during the following class if taken place within the 48 hours following receipt of the
email. The professor does not check email over the weekend, however. Note that the
professor reserves the right not to answer an email if the level of language used is
On virtual campus:



There are two central tasks in this course. First we will unravel the different yet
interconnected stages of the policy process, notably: emergence, development,
implementation and evaluations. Second, we will attempt to appreciate the influence of
institutions, ideas, and interests on public policy. The objective is to present the main
theoretical approaches (neo-institutionalism, post-positivism, political economy etc.) with the
aim of relating them critically, analyzing their methodological and theoretical contributions.
This course focuses on three main items: the leading authors, the fundamental concepts, and
the prominent debates in the field. Discussions and references from other sub-fields of Public
Administration and Political Studies (and beyond) are highly encouraged to nourish the desired
intellectual atmosphere.


By the conclusion of this course, students will be able to:

Identify the major theoretical approaches to the field;

Recognizing the seminal contributions to public policy theories;
Engage critically in theoretical discussions
Consider and apply various theories to your own research interests, while
simultaneously expanding beyond your own specific areas to gain a richer appreciation
for the field of public policy

This course is organized and structured as a seminar. The lecture will serve as a
complement to class discussions. Class attendance is mandatory and everyone must
come prepared, having done the assigned readings, contemplated the primary themes,
prepared some questions to pose during the seminar, and participate actively
throughout the discussion.
The instructor will help facilitate the conversations, providing background material,
and situating the weeks readings in the wider context of the field of public policy.
Most weeks, as part of your participation grades, students will be assigned one reading
to prepare a short written summary (350 words max) that will be emailed to the group
the evening before class. The article assignments will be made on a weekly basis.
Students will also undertake the responsibility of leading components of one
seminar. This will entail:

outlining major arguments from the readings (should be less than 20% of the
presentation) and analysis (should be more than 50% of the presentation) of the
weeks required readings
raising questions and encouraging debate, discussion, and the clarification of
key concepts and arguments, developing critiques, exploring gaps, and pushing
the conversation
a short outline must be provided to the instructor, three days before the
seminar. 5% will be deducted from your grade if this is not provided.
creativity in these presentations is strongly encouraged feel free to draw on
relevant podcasts or other multimedia presentation to integrate contemporary
examples to illuminate the applicability of the theories covered in class.

Absences are only permitted with medical documentation. If more than three classes
are missed, you will forfeit your participation grades. Additionally, 2% is docked from
your participation grade for non-medical absences. Other factors considered are the
quality of your participation, preparation for class, being attentive to class
discussions, and raising thoughtful comments and questions. It might be helpful to
keep the following questions in mind when preparing for the seminars and writing your
short one-pager on the specific articles:

What are the central points or arguments being made in the readings?
What evidence and methods have they used to support their arguments?
How does the weeks reading relate to other material examined in the course?
What is your evaluation of the authors positions?
a. What are the gaps in the argument?
b. Where are there weak points in the analysis?
c. What is the scope of the argument? How applicable is it beyond the
confines of the particular subject?

In general, both MA and PHD students will complete the same types of assignments,
with small adjustments made in the length and number. There is one additional
assignment for the PHD students.
Students must select and complete three reflection papers from the potential seven
topics listed below. All students must complete at least one from the first three
options. Reflection papers are to be no longer than 3 pages for MA students and 4
pages for PHD students. PHD students are expected to address the majority of the
weekly readings while the readings for MA students are marked with an asterix. Note
that you cannot write your reflection on the same day you are facilitating the seminar.
Reflection papers must be emailed to the professor as a WORD DOCUMENT by 7pm the
day before class. If received after 7pm, 5% will be docked from your grade. You
will not be able to attend the seminar without submitting it prior to it beginning. You
will be docked an additional 5% if you fail to submit it before class and an additional
2% from your participation grade for missing class. Title pages are not necessary.
Please use in-text references when referring to the readings.
Please do not situate the reflection papers in the context of the course. Instead, you
should use this as a change to reflect on the wider topic and what we are learning
about for the study of public policy. Reflection papers should not be structured as
separate summaries of each of the readings. Instead, the reflection papers should
identify the primary and cross-cutting themes from the weeks readings, explore how
aspects of the readings speak to each other (or do not, as the case may be), and
identify potential gaps or contradictions in the arguments presented by the various
authors. The purpose of these assignments is not to simply regurgitate the pieces or
present them article by article; rather, you should synthesize the pieces, and develop
an analysis of the fundamental themes and contributions that appear within and across
them. Your goal is to develop an argument about how the readings enable us (or not)
to explain and understand particular features of the policy world.


Exploring Agenda-Setting and Problem Defining
Understanding Instruments and Implementation
Exploring Decision-Making
Critical Policy Theory

Students must also complete a mandatory paper titled: What Does the Heavy Lifting?
Institutions, Ideas, or Interests? Your objective here is to answer the question relying
only on the course readings likely focusing on the readings from Weeks 3, 4, and 5.
You will need to determine a basis upon which to ground your paper for instance, you
can select a specific policy area or a stage of the policy cycle and then answer the
question. This paper should be no longer than 12 pages for MA students and 15
pages for the PHD students, excluding references.
In addition to the paper, each of you will be responsible for developing a six-minute
presentation/critique of one of your colleagues papers. This will be strictly timed.
Papers must be emailed by MONDAY NOVEMBER 13th BEFORE MIDNIGHT to the
professor and your assigned discussant. 5% will be deducted after midnight from your
grade of the paper. With 5% deducted for each subsequent day you are late.

PHD students only: You are required to select a recent academic book published
(more or less) within the last 18 months from the field of public policy and complete a
book review to be submitted to a scholarly journal. In consultation with the professor,
students must select a book in close relationship to their research interests; identify a
journal relevant to their own field of interest; read the book; produce a book review
according to the journals guidelines, and send the journal guidelines for book reviews
to the professor.

Components of Final Mark (MAs)

Evaluation format






Reflection Papers


Peer Critique

Three @ 10% each

November 13th before midnight

Components of Final Mark (PHDs)

Evaluation format






Peer Critique

Reflection Papers


Three @ 10% each

November 13th
before midnight

Book Review


December 3rd

Policy on language quality and late submissions

Class attendance is necessary to successfully complete this course. If you miss more
than 3 classes, you will forfeit your participation grade. Additionally, the professor
deducts 2% from your participation grade per class missed without medical
documentation regardless of the reason.
You will also be judged on your writing abilities. It is recommended to take the
appropriate measures to avoid mistakes. You will be penalized between 5% to 15%, to
the professors discretion.
Late submissions are not tolerated. Exceptions are made only for illness or other
serious situations deemed as such by the professor. There will be a penalty for late
submissions. University regulations require all absences from exams and all late
submissions due to illness to be supported by a medical certificate. The Faculty
reserves the right to accept or reject the reason put forth if it is not medical. Reasons
such as travel, work and errors made while reading the exam schedule are not usually

In the event of an illness or related complications, only the counseling service and the
campus clinic (located at 100 Marie-Curie) may issue valid certificates to justify a
delay or absence. Each day of late submission results in a penalty of 5% (weekends not
excluded). This also applies to assignments sent by email, and in this case, the time of
receipt of the email by the recipient is guarantor of the time of delivery.

Week 1: Introductions
(September 11th)
Guba, Egon G. and Yvonna S. Lincoln, Competing Paradigms in Qualitative Research
in The Handbook of Qualitative Research. 1994. [posted on Virtual Campus]
Lowi, T. (1972) Four systems of policy, politics, and choice Public Administration
Review. 32, 4: 298-310
Simeon, R. (1976) Studying Public Policy Canadian Journal of Political Science.
9, 4: 548-580.
Steinberger, P. J. (1980) Typologies of public policy: Meaning construction and the
policy process Social Science Quarterly. 61, 2: 185-197.
Heclo H. (1972) Policy Analysis British Journal of Political Science. 2, 1: 83-108.
Haverland, M. and D. Yanow. (2012) A Hitchhikers Guide to the Public Administration
Research Universe: Surviving Conversations on Methodologies and Methods Public
Administration Review. 72(3): 401-408.
Torgerson, Douglas. Between Knowledge and Politics: Three Faces of Policy Analysis.
Policy Sciences 19, 1 (1986): 33-59.
Week 2: Situating Policy Within The State and Administration
(September 18th)
Aberbach, Joel D. and Bert A. Rockman. (1987) Comparative Administrative:
Methods, Muddles, and Models Administration and Society. 18: 473-506.
Wager, Peter. Public Policy, Social Science, and the State: An Historical Perspective
Handbook of Public Policy Analysis: Theory, Politics, and Methods. Frank Fischer et al.
eds -
Scott, James C. (1998) Seeing Like A State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the
Human Condition Have Failed. Yale University Press. Chapters 1 and 2 [posted on VC]
Barrett, Scott. (2007) Why Cooperate? The Incentive to Supply Global Public Goods.
Oxford: Oxford University Press. Introduction and Chapter 6 [online UO Library]

Jann, Werner and Kai Wegrich. (2007) Theories of the Policy Cycle in Handbook of
Public Policy Analysis: Theory, Politics, and Methods. Frank Fischer, eds.
Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Week 3: Institutionalism
(September 25th)
* Campbell, John. L. The Rise and Transformation of Institutional Analysis October
2007. Available online from

PHD Students should also familiarize themselves with John Campbells book
Institutional Change and Globalization Princeton University Press 2004.

Hall, Peter and Rosemary Taylor. Political Science and the Three Institutionalisms
Political Studies. 44, 5 (1996): 936-957.
* Hay, Colin and Daniel Wincott. Structure, Agency and Historical Institutionalism
Political Studies. 46, 5 (1998): 951-957.
* March, James and Johan Olson. The new institutionalism: organizational factors in
political life American Political Science Review. 78, 3 (September1984): 734-749.
* Ostrom, Elinor. Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective
Action. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), Chapters 1 and 2. [posted on
Hacker, Jacob. The Historical Logic of National Health Insurance: Structure and
Sequence in the Development of British, Canadian, and US Medical Policy Studies in
American Political Development. 12, 01 (April 1998): 57-130.
Pierson, Paul. Politics in Time: History, Institutions, and Social Analysis. Princeton:
Princeton University Press, 2004. Chapter 5. [posted on VC]
Week 4: Ideas and the Discursive Turn
(October 2nd)
Campbell, John. Ideas, Politics, and Public Policy Annual Review of Sociology.
(2002) 28: 21-38.
Chadwick, Andrew. Studying Political Ideas: a Public Political Discourse Approach
Political Studies. 48 (2000): 283-301.
Daigneault, Pierre-Marc. Ideas and Welfare Reform in Saskatchewan: Entitlement,
Workfare or Activation? Canadian Journal of Political Science. (2015): FIRST VIEW
* Fischer, Frank. Reframing Public Policy: Discursive Politics and Deliberative
Practices. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003. Chapter 2. [posted on VC]

* Jenson, Jane. Redesigning citizenship regimes after neoliberalism: Ideas about

social investment
* Mehta, Jal. The Varied Roles of Ideas in Politics: From Whether to How In Ideas
and Politics in Social Science Research. Daniel Bland and Robert Henry Cox, eds.
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011. pp. 23-83. [available online from the UO
* Schmidt, Vivian. Discursive Institutionalism: The Explanatory Power of Ideas and
Discourse Annual Review of Political Science. 11 (2008): 303-326.
Week 5: Interests, Networks and Communities
(October 9th)
* Coleman, William D. and Grace Skogstad. (1990) Policy Communities and Policy
Networks: A Structural Approach. Policy Communities and Public Policy in Canada: A
Structural Approach. William D. Coleman and Grace Skogstad, eds. Mississauga: Copp
Clark Pitman, Ltd. (14-33). [posted on VC]
Haas, Peter M. Introduction: epistemic communities and international policy
coordination International Organization. 46, 1 (Winter 1992): 1-36.
* Marsh, David and Martin Smith, Understanding Policy Networks: towards a
Dialectical Approach, Political Studies 48, no. 1(2000): 4-21.
* Weible, Christopher and Paul A. Sabatier. 2007. A Guide to the Advocacy Coalition
Framework Handbook of Public Policy
%20Th.pdf (Chapter 9)
* Campbell, John A. and Ove Pedersen, Knowledge Regimes and Comparative Political
Economy Ideas and Politics in Social Science Research. Daniel Beland and Robert
Henry Cox, eds. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011. pp. 167-190. [available online
from the UO library]
Rochon, Thomas R. and Daniel A. Mazmanian. 1993. Social Movements and the Policy
Process Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. 528: 75-87.
Sikkink, Kathryn. Human Rights, principled issue-networks, and sovereignty in Latin
America International Organization. 47, 3 (Summer 1993): 411-441.
Week 6: Agenda-Setting and Problem Definition
(October 16h)
* Baumgartner, Frank R. and Bryan D. Jones. Agendas and Instability in American
Politics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993, Chapters 1 and 2. [posted on VC]
Birkland, Thomas A. Focusing Events, Mobilization, and Agenda Setting Journal of
Public Policy. 18, 1 (1998): 53-74.
* Kingdon, John. (2003) Agendas, Alternatives, and Public Policies. Second Edition.
New York: Longman. Chapters 5 and 8. [posted on VC]

* Rochefort, David A. and Roger W. Cobb. Problem Definition: An Emerging

Perspective The Politics of Problem Definition: Shaping the Policy Agenda. David A.
Rochefort and Roger W. Cobb, eds. Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas.
1994: 1-31. [posted on VC]
* Schon, Donald A. and Martin Rein, Frame Reflection: Toward the Resolution of
Intractable Policy Controversies. New York: Basic Books, 1994. Chapters 1-3 [posted
on VC]
Stone, Deborah. 1989. Causal Stories and the Formation of Policy Agendas Political
Science Quarterly. 104, 2 (Summer): 281-300.
Week 7: Instruments and Implementation
(October 23th)
Lascoumes, Pierre and Patrick Le Gales. 2007. Understanding Public Policy through Its
Instruments From the Nature of Instruments to the Sociology of Public Policy
Instrumentation Governance: An International Journal of Policy, Administration, and
Institutions. 20, 1 (January): 1-21.
Jordan, Andrew et al. 2005. The Rise of New Policy Instruments in Comparative
Perspective Has Governance Eclipsed Government? Political Studies 53: 477-496.
Linder, Stephen H. and B. Guy Peters. Instruments of Government: Perceptions and
Contexts Journal of Public Policy. 9, 1 (Jan Mar 1989): 35-58.
* Schneider, Anne and Helen Ingram. Behaviorial Assumptions of Policy Instruments
Journal of Politics. 52, 2 (1990): 510-29.
* Vedung, Evert. Policy Instruments: Typologies and Theories In Carrots, Sticks, and
Sermons: Policy Instruments and Their Evaluation. Marie Louise Bemelmans-Videc, Ray
C. Rist, and Evert Vedung, eds. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 1998. 21-58.
[posted on VC]
* Ross, Fiona. Framing Welfare Reform in Affluent Societies: Rendering Restructuring
More Palatable? Journal of Public Policy 20(2) 2000: 169-193.
* Pulzi, Helga and Oliver Treib. 2007. Implementing Public Policy in Handbook of
Policy Analysis
20Th.pdf (Chapter 7)


Week 8: Decision-Making
(November 6th)
Cohen, M., J. March, and J. Olsen. 1972 A Garbage Can Model of Organizational
Choice Administrative Science Quarterly. 17, 1: 1-25.

* Forester, John. Bounded Rationality and the Politics of Muddling Through. Public
Administration Review. 44, 1 (January 1984): 23-31.
* Lindblom, Charles, Still Muddling, Not Yet Through Public Administration Review.
39, 6 (November/December 1979): 517-26.
* Simon, Herbert, Theories of Decision-Making in Economics and Behavioral Science
The American Economic Review. 49, 3 (June 1959): 253-283.
Griggs, Steven. 2007. Rational Choice in Public Policy: The Theory in Critical
Perspective Handbook of Policy Analysis -
%20Th.pdf (Chapter 13).
* Irvin, Renee A. and John Stansbury. Citizen Participation in Decision Making: Is it
worth the effort? Public Administration Review. 64, 1 (January/February 2004): 5565.
Week 9: What Does the Heavy Lifting?
(November 13th)
Student papers and critical commentary the purpose is to put the opening weeks
together to weave together and consider all the insights from the Three I-s of public
policy theory. Students will be bundled into a series of teams. Members from each
team read one anothers papers. Each student will be act as a discussant for another
student and provide a 7-minute oral presentation on their assigned paper. In essence,
this class is like a mini-conference of your work.
Week 10: Political Economy and Public Policy
(November 20th)
* Esping-Andersen, G. The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism. Princeton NJ:
Princeton University Press, 1990. pp. 9-34. [posted on VC]
* Gourevitch, Peter. 1979. The Second Image Reversed: The International Sources of
Domestic Politics International Organization 32, 4(Autumn): 881-912.
Jessop, B. Cultural political economy and critical policy studies Critical Policy
Studies. 3(3-4) 2010: 336-356.
Hall, Peter A. and David Soskice, An Introduction to Varieties of Capitalism in
Varieties of Capitalism: The Institutional Foundations of Comparative Advantage.
(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), 1-68. [online through the library]
Korpi W. and J. Palme. The Paradox of Redistribution and Strategies of Equality:
Welfare State, Institutions, Inequality and Poverty in Western Countries American
Sociological Review. 63, 5 (1998): 661-687.
* Pontusson, J. From Comparative Public Policy to Political Economy: Putting Political
Institutions in their Place and Taking Interests Seriously Comparative Political
Studies. 28, 1 (1995): 117-147.

* Therborn, Goran. Neo-Marxist, pluralist, corporatist, statist theories and the

welfare state 204-231. [posted on VC]
Week 11: Critical Policy Studies
(November 27st)
* Abele, Frances. Between Respect and Control: Traditional Indigenous Knowledge in
Canadian Public Policy In Critical Policy Studies. Michael Orsini and Miriam Smith,
Eds. (Vancouver: UBC Press), 233-256. [available online through the library]
* Hankivsky, Olena. Intersectionality and Public Policy: Some Lessons from Existing
Models Political Research Quarterly. 64, 1 (March 2011): 217-229.
* King, Desmond and Rogers Smith. Racial Orders in American Political Development,
American Political Science Review 99, 1 (2005): 75-92
Orloff, Ann Shola and Bruno Palier. The Power of Gender Perspectives: Feminist
Influence on Policy Paradigms, Social Science, and Social Politics. Social Politics. 16, 4
(2009): 405-412.
Orsini, Michael. 2014. Manufacturing Civil Society? How the Krever Inquiry on the
Blood System in Canada Shaped Collective Action and Policy Change In Commissions
of Inquiry and Policy Change: A Comparative Analysis. Gregory J. Inwood and Carolyn
M. Johns, eds. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 172-192.
Smith, Miriam. Questioning Heteronormativity: Lesbian and Gay Challenges to
Education Practice in British Columbia, Canada Social Movement Studies. 3, 2 (2004):
* Swedlow, B. Toward Cultural Analysis in policy Analysis: Picking Up Where Aaron
Wildavsky Left Off Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis: Research and Practice.
4,3 (2002): 267-285.
Week 12: Explaining and Understanding the Nature and Dynamics of Change
Alink, Fleur, Arjen Boin and Paul tHart. Institutional crises and reforms in policy
sectors: the case of asylum policy in Europe Journal of European Public Policy. 8, 2
(2001): 286-306.
Brown, Lawrence D. Pedestrian Paths: Why Path-Dependence Theory Leaves Health
Policy Analysis Lost in Space Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law. 35, 4 (August
2010): 644-661.
Streeck, Wolfgang and Kathleen Thelen. Introduction: Institutional Change in
Advanced Political Economies in Beyond Continuity: Institutional Change in Advanced
Political Economies. Wolfgang Streeck and Kathleen Thelen, Eds. Oxford: Oxford
University Press, 2005, pp. 1-39. (online through library)
Weaver, Kent. Paths and Forks or Chutes and Ladders?: Negative Feedbacks and
Policy Regime Change Journal of Public Policy. 30, 2 (August 2010): 137-162.
Wilson, Carter A. Policy Regimes and Policy Change Journal of Public Policy. 20, 3
(2000): 247-274.


Simmons, Beth and Zachary Elkins. 2004. The Globalization of Liberalization: Policy
Diffusion in the International Political Economy American Political Science Review.
98(1): 171-189.
Resources for you
Mentoring Centre -
The goal of the Mentoring Centre is to help students with their academic and social well being during
their time at the University of Ottawa. Regardless of where a student stands academically, or how far
along they are in completing their degree, the mentoring centre is there to help students continue on
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A student may choose to visit the mentoring centre for very different reasons. Younger students may
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while older student may simply want to brush up on study and time management skills or learn about
programs and services for students nearing the end of their degree.
In all, the Mentoring Centre offers a place for students to talk about concerns and problems that they
might have in any facet of their lives. While students are able to voice their concerns and problems
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practical solution to better improve the services that the Faculty of Social Sciences offers, as well as the
services offered by the University of Ottawa.
Academic Writing Help Centre -
At the AWHC you will learn how to identify, correct and ultimately avoid errors in your writing and
become an autonomous writer. In working with our Writing Advisors, you will be able to acquire the
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Learn what the expectations are for academic writing
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Beware of Academic Fraud!

Academic fraud is an act committed by a student to distort the marking of
assignments, tests, examinations, and other forms of academic evaluation.
Academic fraud is neither accepted nor tolerated by the University. Anyone found
guilty of academic fraud is liable to severe academic sanctions.
Here are a few examples of academic fraud:
engaging in any form of plagiarism or cheating;
presenting falsified research data;
handing in an assignment that was not authored, in whole or in part, by the
submitting the same assignment in more than one course, without the
written consent of the professors concerned.
In recent years, the development of the Internet has made it much easier to
identify academic plagiarism. The tools available to your professors allow them to
trace the exact origin of a text on the Web, using just a few words.
In cases where students are unsure whether they are at fault, it is their
responsibility to consult the Universitys Web site at the following address: Tools for Writing
Papers and Assignments .
Persons who have committed or attempted to commit (or have been accomplices
to) academic fraud will be penalized. Here are some examples of the academic
sanctions, which can be imposed:
a grade of F for the assignment or course in question;
an additional program requirement of between 3 and 30 credits;
suspension or expulsion from the Faculty.
Last session, most of the students found guilty of fraud were given an F for the
course and had between three and twelve credits added to their program
For more information, refer to:




the purpose of these assignments is to appreciate and evaluate the work of other
authors situating the pieces within the broader literature, identifying the key themes
and arguments, clarifying points of agreement and disagreement in the weekly
readings, and pointing out where gaps and limitations remain


What are the main points, ideas, or arguments of the work (book, article,
play essay, etc.)?
How is the work organized?
What evidence/support does the author give?
What is the primary purpose of the work?


Does the work achieve its purpose

Was the purpose worthwhile to begin with? Was it too limited, trivial, broad,
theoretical, empirical, etc.?
Is any of the evidence weak or insufficient? In what way? Conversely, is this evidence/
support particularly effective or strong?
How do the different authors speak to each other?
What are the common themes that emerge?
Where are critical points of difference?
As a collective, what aspect of public policy is the week addressing?


have a thesis which is a statement about the topic could be an

argument for or against a position
show what is was in the assigned readings that made you think about this
topic - compare and contrast what the readings had to say about the
topics and the new insights that can be gained from the material
clarify the ways in which the readings help us to better understand a
phenomenon in question and identify the gaps that still remain

Adapted by Jennifer Wallner from: MAKING SENSE: A STUDENTS GUIDE TO