Decision analysis and risk management 2015/Homework

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Follow-up table of the homeworks. Green: work is acceptable. White: there is still work to do. Red: work is overdue.
User HW 1: Open assessment HW 2: Basic skills of Opasnet HW 3: Basic concepts of open assessment HW 4: Draft of an assessment HW 5: Climate policy decisions and actions HW 6: Collaboration in climate policy assessment HW 7: Structure of pages and objects and R code HW 8: Structured discussion HW 9: Developing a variable page HW10: Evaluation of assessment Seminars
Aino-Maija Kyykoski
Aishat Bukola Ayelotan HW1 HW3
Anna Kurtelius
Anni Hartikainen HW1
Evans Effah HW1 HW3
Johannes Niiranen HW1
Mari Malinen HW 1 HW 3
Michael Osei Assibey HW 1 HW 3
Mohammad Shahidehnia HW1 HW3
Olubunmi Olujimisola Olubamwo
Oluwatobi Abayomi Badejo HW1 HW3
Pankouis HW1
Paula Maatela HW1 HW3
Taya Huang HW1 HW3

Please read the homework assignments carefully and follow the instructions. If there is something unclear, please ask the course organizers (or fellow students) to explain and clarify! NOTE: Write all your homework answers on your own user page.

Also add links to your homework answers in the table above. The evaluation of the homework exercises will be based on the answers found by following the links in the table. Students themselves are responsible for having the correct, complete and up-to-date links to homework answers. if you need help in adding the links to your homework answers to the table, please ask the course organizers (or fellow students) for advice. A convenient way to get help is to come to the exercise sessions.

Please note
  • If your Homework says "OK" it means that the given homework is graded as "pass", i.e. at least 1 point. If you want to get better points, you should check and answer lecturers´ comments regarding that homework.
  • If there is no "OK" sign, you must revise your work according to the comments in order to make it acceptable.
  • Homework answers done in groups/pairs are found from only one place.
  • Add link to answers on your own user page if it is located on someone else's user page (do not copy the text on your own user page).

Questions and answers about the course

  • Q: Ask a question
  • A: Answer

Time-table for seminar presentations

Date Time Classroom Presenters Topic
To be filled.

Please comment here if you find any mistakes, missing information etc. in the above table or if you have any questions regarding it. You can also contact us by email, see Decision analysis and risk management 2015#Help and guidance.

Each presentation slot is 30 min including the talk (about 20 min) and discussion (10 min).

Homework 1: Open policy practice

Estimated working time: 3 hours.

Read page Open policy practice and browse Assessments are to change the world and Shared information objects in policy support and provide brief answers to three (3) questions from the following question list. You may also want to search from Opasnet. You are free to choose which questions to answer. Write your answers on your own Opasnet user page. Instructions on creating a user account and editing your own user page will be given on first lecture. In case of difficulties in wiki editing, write your answers on a separate document and copy them to your user page later. The questions and answers will be discussed on the second lecture (23 March). A sufficient length for each answers is a few sentences or bullet points. Please do not write lengthy essays, but instead try to identify and briefly describe the main points relevant in each question. The idea of this homework is not to find the right or correct answers, but instead to introduce the conceptual basis of this course to the students.


  1. What is the main purpose of environmental health assessment?
  2. What is shared understanding?
  3. What are the main differences between regulatory and academic assessment approaches? Give examples of each.
  4. What are co-creation skills?
  5. What are the main differences between open assessment and most other assessment approaches?
  6. What is benefit-risk assessment?
  7. What is open assessment?
  8. What different purposes are there for participation in assessment and/or decision making?
  9. What are the dimensions of openness?
  10. What relevant stakeholder roles are there in environmental health assessment and related decision making
  11. What is effectiveness' in the context of environmental health assessment and related decision making?
  12. What is the trialogical approach to knowledge creation and learning?
  13. What is decision support?
  14. What is a pragmatic knowledge service?
  15. What is collaboration?
  16. What are the properties of good assessment?
  17. What is the role of modelling in assessment and policy making?
  18. What parts does the open policy practice consist of?
  19. What does it mean that the results of assessments can be considered shared information objects?

Homework 2: Basic skills of open policy practice

Estimated working time: 5 hours
Basic skills: Mark "yes" when you know how to do this and put a link to the page where you have used the skill.
User Understand terms Create a page and type Upload a file and link it Use headings, lists, bold, italic Use internal and external links and templates Use references Create a prettytable Upload data by t2b table and Opasnet Base Uploader Create an rcode for answer Create and store an ovariable based on t2b Organise a discussion
Aino-Maija Kyykoski
Aishat Bukola Ayelotan yes yes
Anna Kurtelius
Anni Hartikainen yes yes yes
Evans Effah
Johannes Niiranen
Mari Malinen yes yes yes
Michael Osei Assibey
Mohammad Shahidehnia
Olubunmi Olujimisola Olubamwo
Oluwatobi Abayomi Badejo yes yes yes
Paula Maatela
Taya Huang

Homework 3: Basic concepts of open assessment

Estimated working time: 2 hours.

Task: Read a) homeworks 1 and 2, b) Glossary#Terms in open policy practice and c) the introductory pages listed below and write two questions that you think needs clarification. Write the questions on your own user page. The questions will be answered during the next lecture.

Materials and examples for training in Opasnet and open assessment
Help pages Wiki editingHow to edit wikipagesQuick reference for wiki editingDrawing graphsOpasnet policiesWatching pagesWriting formulaeWord to WikiWiki editing Advanced skills
Training assessment (examples of different objects) Training assessmentTraining exposureTraining health impactTraining costsClimate change policies and health in KuopioClimate change policies in Kuopio
Methods and concepts AssessmentVariableMethodQuestionAnswerRationaleAttributeDecisionResultObject-oriented programming in OpasnetUniversal objectStudyFormulaOpasnetBaseUtilsOpen assessmentPSSP
Terms with changed use ScopeDefinitionResultTool
  • With respect to Universal objects, I quite agree with you that Assessment is one of the universal objects. However,in the classification of the Universal objects, Why can´t we classify Assessment into products and processes due to its structure and uses?
  • What is the difference between the the different types of dose-response curves ; Michaelis-Menten and Hill equation?
  • With respect to attributes, it was mentioned that some objects in open assessment have four attributes; Name, Question, Answer and Rationale with each attribute having three parts. Can you please expantiate more on the parts of the attributes.

Homework 4: Draft of an assessment

Note! Homework 4 answers will be used as materials in homework 10.

Estimated working time: 8 hours

Task: With your pair, draft an assessment about the topic agreed on during the lecture. See the correct structure from Assessment. You may copy the structure directly from Template:Assessment structure. Write the draft assessment on either your or your partner's user page (and put a link to it on the other's user page). Choose your specific topic within the broader area of climate change policies in a city. You can consider mitigation (how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions), adaptation (how to prepare for changes caused by climate change) or both. You may choose a specific city on your assessment, or look at some aspect in cities in general.

Homework 5: Climate policy decisions and actions

Estimated working time: 6 hours

Consider that you are given an assignment to assess the direct or indirect health impacts caused by a climate (adaptation) strategy or program. One of the first things in getting started with the assessment is to discuss, identify and explicate the decisions and options related to the assessment problem. In pairs choose one climate (adaptation) strategy/program from the material list below and identify and write out answers to the following questions based on the material. Use your own reasoning and knowledge or other sources (e.g. Google search) as complementary where the material is incomplete or inconclusive.

Write your answers on either group member's user page (other member adds a link to the answers on his/her user page).


  • What are the aims/goals of the strategy/program, i.e. what are the desired impacts and outcomes striven for?
    • Who are those that benefit if the aims/goals of the strategy/program are reached?
  • What are the actions that are needed/intended to take in order to progress towards the aims/goals?
    • Who are those that actually realize these actions?
  • What are the decisions that are needed to make in order to enable/promote the actions?
    • Who are the decision makers?
  • What direct or indirect health impacts, positive or negative, these decisions and actions (may) have?
    • Where and how do these impacts take place, who are those that face these health impacts in practice?The community,the citizens,
    • Are the health impacts big or small in relation to other impacts (e.g. economical, social, climate, other environmental, ...)?
    • Do the intended policies result in win-win, win-lose, lose-win, or lose-lose situations with regard to health and other impacts?
  • Formulate a plausible and meaningful specific assessment question that takes account of (some of) the aspects considered in above questions.
  • Extra question: In what ways your answers do or do not represent "shared understanding"? (The climate program/strategy can be considered a compilation of contributions by many experts and attempting to reflect the views and needs of different decision makers and stakeholders).


Homework 6: Collaboration in climate policy assessment

Estimated working time: 6 hours

This exercise continues from homework 5. With the same pair, using the same material, and building on your homework 5 answers, identify and write out your answers to the following questions. Narrow your scrutiny down to e.g. one or two decisions/actions/goals if needed. Base your answers on the climate program/strategy paper you have chosen, but also apply your own reasoning, other DARM 2015 course materials etc., particularly on the second set of questions.

Write your answers on either group member's user page (other member adds a link to the answers on his/her user page).

Homework 6, part A: Questions about identifying roles and participation:

  • Who are the relevant participants of the assessment?
  • What roles the different participants (may) take in the assessment?
  • What kind of relevant knowledge they (may) have regarding the assessment?
  • What needs and aims do they represent in the assessment?

Homework 6, part B: Consider also the following questions about facilitating collaboration:

  • How could the relevant participants be involved in the assessment in an effective way?
  • How can the quality of an assessment be assured if anyone can participate?
  • How can you prevent malevolent contributions where the purpose is to vandalise the process?
  • How can you make the outcome converge to a conclusion, because all issues are uncertain and controversial?
  • How can you ensure that the outcomes are useful for the users?

Homework 7: Structure of pages and objects and R code

Estimated working time: 8 hours

The objective of this homework is that you learn to see what different parts of a page are and how they are related to each other and to other pages. Especially, an objective is to understand the role of R code in this system. You should learn to identify key things from a code and understand their use and connections to other parts of an assessment. These skill are then needed in Homework 9 when we actually perform an assessment.

With your pair, select and reserve three pages (by adding your usernames beside the page link) from the list below. At least two of them have to contain t2b tables and R code. Go through the content by doing all of the key tasks below, if possible. Also look at the additional questions and answer at least some of them. Write your answers to the page by using the comment, defend (when things are OK), and attack (when things are not OK) buttons. If you can, improve the content or suggest tasks for improvement.

In addition, select three other pages from the list such that another pair has already done the work. Read the content and their comments, and agree or disagree with them. Try to improve the content further.

Key tasks
  • Check that the page has a correct page type and change when needed. Check that the page has all subheadings that belong to the page type. Add, if missing.
  • Categorise the page to relevant categories.
  • Organise the content into the right subheadings. Especially, look what is Data and what is Answer.
  • Check and update the Dependencies. Also check that the Answers in dependency pages are coherent with this page.
  • Make rcodes that a) creates the ovariable (under Calculations) and b) gets the latest ovariable and prints basic results (under Answer).
  • Test any existing code and report its functionalities on the page.
  • Write or update a summary (one paragraph in the very beginning explaining the main points of the text) on the page. If the content is too unclear to write a good summary, write down clarification questions to the moderator of that page.
  • If you have problems with any previous steps, describe them on the relevant point on the page.

Additional questions
  • Does the page have a correct page type?
  • Does the page have a question? Is it clear and unambiguous?
  • Does the page have an answer to the question? Does it actually give an answer to what is asked?
  • With variables, is the answer given as a link to a model run with calculated results? If yes,
    • Does the model run have a clear result table?
    • Does the model run have a clear result graph?
    • Is it clear where the code that was used to run the results is?
  • In method pages: based on the guidance in the answer, is it possible to actually use the method in an assessment?
  • In method pages: What data is required to be able to use the method? Are the requirements listed under "Inputs"?
  • Are there data on the page that is needed to answer the question? Are it in machine-readable format (i.e., in t2b table or directly stored in the database)?
    • Are the data under Rationale/Data subheading, (or in methods under Rationale/Inputs)?
  • Is there data or text that is NOT needed to justify the answer? Would that data be in better place on another page with a different question? What would that question be?
  • If the data is needed but is not used in the Answer, update it or suggest tasks to update it.
  • Are there external variables whose values need to be known to be able to estimate this object? If yes,
    • Are these listed under Rationale/Dependencies?
    • Are there equations (as text) for calculating this object based on the dependencies under Rationale/Formula (or Rationale/Calculations)
  • Is there an R code that implements the object?
    • With variables, is the code under Rationale/Calculations?
    • With methods, is there a code under Rationale/Calculations that defines the method object?
    • With methods, is there a code under Answer that describes how the method object is used??
    • If there are dependencies and formula, does the code take them in to produce an ovariable?
    • If there are data, does the code take them in to produce an ovariable?
    • When you run the code, does it crash (i.e. produce an error message) before completion? When and why (use show code and show messages and errors to understand what's going on)?
    • Are there several different codes on the page? Are their purposes clear?
    • Does the page use other pages (objects) in calculations? Are these connections listed explicitly as links under the R code?
  • Does the page have an evaluation (edistymisluokitus) in either a separate box in the beginning, or in the metadata box?
  • Does the page have other subheadings (See also, References, Related files, Keywords)?
    • Are there links to other related pages? Are relevant links missing?
  • Is the page categorised to relevant categories?
  • With encyclopedia pages: is the content detailed enough so that one or more variables or methods could be made based on it? Does such page(s) exist? Are these pages linked to each other?
  • Does the page explain its links to other pages? Is it clear how the page could be used as a part of an assessment?
  • Do you find other pages that actually have duplicate content? Is some content outdated (based on e.g. version history?)? Suggest how pages should be updated, deleted, or merged.
  • Do you find errors or mistakes on the page?
  • Is the text clear?
  • Write or update a summary (one paragraph in the very beginning explaining the main points of the text) on the page. If the content is too unclear to write a good summary, write down clarification questions to the moderator of that page.
  • Is the text properly referenced?
  • Are there discussions on the Talk page? If yes,
    • Have they been linked to from the main page?
    • Have the current resolutions been incorporated in the main page?
Pages with R code
Pages without R code

Homework 8: Structured discussion

Estimated working time: 10 hours
Main message:

What are the evaluation criteria for structured discussion (homework 8)?


Evaluation of arguments:

  • Each argument is evaluated either A (very good), B (good), or C (irrelevant).
  • When you have written at least one A argument and at least three B arguments, you get grade 2.
  • When you have written at least four B arguments you get grade 1.5.
  • If you have written at least two B arguments you get grade 1.
  • Argument with C is a slight dis-merit and may affect borderline situations.
  • B argument is the default. A arguments differ from B arguments by having
    • an important, unique aspect,
    • good referencing, and/or
    • clever use of hierarchy.

The objective of this homework is to learn to organise existing written material into a structured discussion with a main statement and related arguments. In addition, students should learn to develop and use own arguments within a structured discussion. For examples, see

Your task is to initiate and participate in structured discussions on page Talk:Climate change policies in Helsinki according to the instructions on page Discussion. The original statements of the discussions may be (you may also develop your own statements or discuss with the city representatives):

  • City level climate change mitigation is useless because success depends on international treaties.
  • Climate change policies should consider health impacts and other collateral impacts as they may be significant.
  • Climate change adaptation is more important than mitigation on city level.
  • Citizens have a key role in implementing city climate policies.
  • Food issues are underrepresented in climate discussions although food is a major emission source.
  • District heating by nuclear energy should be considered in Helsinki.
  • The CO2 emission factors of biofuels should be reconsidered: the assumption of zero emissions is not true.

Build the content to your discussion based on different materials you can find from the climate reports in homework 5, from the Internet, and from the city representatives.

As facilitators, you should pay attention to get as many different opinions documented as possible. So, jump into a role of a stakeholder and try to think what he/she would say. Possible roles include:

  • A national authority giving environmental permissions.
  • An energy company.
  • An apartment house company.
  • A nature conservationist.
  • A local politician interested in both nature and local economy.
  • A citizen.

Note that you are allowed to:

  • Contradict your own arguments.
  • Update and improve statements if they are too vague or poorly written. However, be careful not to push the existing argumentation out of context. Instead of making large changes to a statement, start a new discussion with your new statement.
  • Add your signature to other people's arguments if you agree with them.
  • Clarify other people's arguments, if you do it carefully and do not change the meaning.
  • Copy arguments from one discussion to another, if they are relevant. But instead of copying large blocks, make references to the other discussion instead.

Homework 9: Participate in an assessment

Estimated working time: 54 hours
  • Everyone participates in making an open assessment. The topic is Climate change policies in Helsinki. The assessment shares similarities with Climate change policies and health in Kuopio and Climate change policies in Basel.
  • Every pair selects a sub-topic (or research question) and develops at least one variable page that asks that question and answers it. The list of variables that we will work on in the course will be discussed during the lectures.
  • The task is to find relevant information enough for a plausible answer, synthesise the information on the page, and quantitate it.
  • The answer will be an R code that gives the answer in a numeric form (graphs allowed) based on data that is on the page.
  • The data will be documented well enough to convince a critical reader that this is a good answer to the question.

Homework 10: Evaluation of assessment

Estimated working time: 8 hours.

In this exercise you are asked to look into and evaluate one homework 4 draft assessment (other than your own) and one real-life assessment performed in Opasnet (listed below).

The work is based on instructions and tables on page Open policy practice#Evaluation and management. Find the assessments by the two users below you on the user/homework list on top of this page (the last on the list shall pick the first two users on the list and the second last on the list shall pick the last and the first user).

This exercise is intended to be done individually. However, co-operation between students is recommended.

First characterize the draft assessments according to the Knowledge-policy interaction and Dimensions of openness frameworks. The things to consider in the characterization are listed and explained in the tables in Open policy practice#Evaluation and management.

In order to identify the last point in framework for characterising settings (Table 3.), mode of interaction that the draft assessment builds on, characterize the dimensions of openness in the assessment explained in Table 4. (Open policy practice#Dimensions of openness). The example categories for interaction mentioned in Table 3 are explained in Table 5 (Open policy practice#Categories of interaction).

Second, evaluate the assessment drafts according to the (slightly modified) Open policy practice#Properties of good decision support framework. Base your evaluation on the characterization you have made. The things to consider in the evaluation are listed and explained in Table 2. For each attribute (i.e. an aspect to consider) give a numerical evaluation on a 1-5 scale (1 = poor, 5 = excellent). Also briefly write down your reasoning for each numerical evaluation. If something seems completely missing or not possible to evaluate, the numerical evaluation is 0 (also write down your reasoning why the particular aspect of the draft assessment deserves an evaluation of 0).

Evaluation of assessments is not only something to be done after an assessment has been completed. Instead, evaluation should be seen as a means to guide the making of assessments towards their aims while they are still happening. Therefore, the third task of this exercise is to formulate suggestions for developing/improving the draft assessment. Write your suggestions as comments/arguments to the user pages where the draft assessment descriptions are. Also point out where the information in the draft assessment is/was missing or insufficient for characterization or evaluation.

Homework 4 answers will be used as materials in this exercise and the deadline for homework 4 is 15th April 2015. It is recommended that you attempt to do this exercise only starting from 15th April 2015.

Links to some examples of using the above mentioned evaluation frameworks:

Seminar: Lessons learned

Estimated preparing time: 5 hours.

Each pair has a slot of 30 min to present their topic and discuss it. A recommendation is to aim at 15 min of presentation and 15 min of discussion. Each pair has a different topic, but each topic is about one of the homeworks. When preparing your presentation, focus on three things:

  1. Describe the substantive content of your topic. What did you learn about it, what conclusions were made based on the material and the work?
  2. Describe how the content relates to a wider perspective, namely an assessment or a decision process. What additional value did this topic bring? Did it change conclusions? Was it important in increasing understanding, or some other way?
  3. How was it incorporated into the bigger picture? What methods were used to incorporate it? How were the methods used, and did the methods work for their purpose?