Syllabus GOVT 2305 -Fall 2014 - Learning Web

Houston Community College
Government 2305 Federal Government
Tom Baugh
Learning Web
Office Hours:
Required Texts: or
Available to meet before or after class as requested
Bianco & Canon American Politics Today, 2011 Third Essentials ed.
Special Needs: If you have any special needs which affect your ability to learn in this class,
please inform me. Appropriate steps will be taken to assist you with your needs. Any student
with a documented disability (physical, learning, psychiatric, vision, hearing, etc.) who needs to
arrange reasonable accommodations must contact the Northwest ADA counselor at the
beginning of each semester. The Disability Services Office at Northwest College can be reached
at 713-718-5808. Faculty members are authorized to provide only the accommodations requested
by the Disability Support Services Office. To visit the ADA Web site, please visit
then click Future students, scroll down the page and click on the words Disability Information.
Course Description:
This course is an introductory survey of the United States political system. Topics include a
theoretical study of the discipline of political science, the United States Constitution, political
institutions, federalism, public opinion, voting behavior, the electoral system, interest groups,
and political parties.
Course Topics:
Understanding American Politics
The Constitution and the Founding
Civil Liberties
Equal Rights
Public Opinion and the Media
Political Parties
Interest Groups
The Presidency
The Federal Judicial System
The Federal Bureaucracy
Civil Rights
Economic Policy and Social Policy
Foreign Policy
Course Objectives:
Core Objectives
The Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) mandates that the core curriculum must ensure
that students will develop the essential knowledge and skills they need to be successful in college, in a
career, in their communities, and in life. Through the Texas Core Curriculum, students will gain a
foundation of knowledge of human cultures and the physical and natural world, develop principles of
personal and social responsibility for living in a diverse world, and advance intellectual and practical
skills that are essential for all learning.
Students enrolled in GOVT 2305/2306 core curriculum courses will complete assessments designed to
measure the following core objectives:
o Critical Thinking Skills—to include creative thinking, innovation, inquiry, and analysis,
evaluation and synthesis of information
o Communication Skills—to include effective development, interpretation and expression of
ideas through written, oral and visual communication
o Personal Responsibility—to include the ability to connect choices, actions and consequences to
ethical decision-making
o Social Responsibility—to include the ability to connect choices, actions, and consequences to
ethical decision-making
Student assessment of proficiencies mandated by THECB may include testing, projects, or assignments.
Government Program Student Learning Outcomes
1. Identify and describe the institutions of American national government. GOVT
2. Identify and describe the institutions of the State of Texas government. GOVT
3. Identify and evaluate information sources for political news, data, and opinion. GOVT
4. Analyze the effects of the historical, social, political, economic, and cultural forces on
politics and government. GOVT 2306
5. Recognize and assume the responsibilities of citizenship by developing one’s critical
thinking skills, engaging in public discourse, and by obtaining information through the
news media. GOVT 2305
Student Learning Activities
The following Student Learning Activities are designed to maximize your understanding
of the course content as well as develop basic competencies and perspectives that are
necessary for your overall success in college and in the workforce.
Class Lectures: Lectures will be organized and continually updated to include the latest
factual material and ideas. Lectures will involve a significant amount of material not
contained in the textbooks. The lectures are intended to supplement, not repeat
information from the textbook verbatim. Class lectures will develop your ability to
analyze, interpret and discuss spoken information.
Class Discussion and Group Projects: Class discussion and group projects will be related
to the topic under consideration and help students develop critical-thinking and problem
solving skills. Discussions and group projects will consist of role-playing, debates and
Socratic classroom discussions and will stress development of your ability to speak,
listen, and think critically—individually and as a group.
Textbook Readings: An important part of the college experience is learning how to learn
independently from the instructor. You will be required to read and learn on your own a
significant amount of information and ideas from the textbook.
Additional Readings: Because of the lag time in publishing textbooks, extra-reading
assignments are necessary to provide you with the latest information and ideas—
especially in political science. Accordingly, additional readings may be assigned to assist
you in gaining new information.
Written Assignments: There is one mandatory written assignment which must be turned
in no later than Monday, November 24. The written assignment will constitute 20
percent of your grade for the class. Failure to turn it in by the submission deadline will
result in a grade of zero for the assignment. Additional information regarding the written
assignment will be provided in class.
Grading System:
Grading in this course is designed to demonstrate your knowledge of the course material in
addition to your ability to demonstrate basic competencies and perspectives. If you actively
engage in the student learning activities outlined above you should be able to successful
complete the course.
Tests: There will be four (4) tests. There will be four tests, each covering both the reading
material and material discussed only in class. Each will include multiple choice, short answer,
and/or essay questions. If you miss a test, contact me immediately to arrange a time for a makeup test (which may be entirely in short answer/essay form). Avoid missing a test if at all
possible. Please check the tentative schedule for test dates.
You are responsible for all the material on the tentative schedule. Do not ask me to tell you what
is on the test or whether something is important. An important part of being a successful student
is acquiring a large amount of information, ascertaining the significance of that information and
assimilating that information in a way that is useful and productive.
Come Prepared: Please bring a Scantron Form 882-E and a No. 2 pencil for each exam. Arrive
early for the exam as you will find that you will have time to collect your thoughts and generally
your test performance will improve. You will only have the time allotted for your class period to
take the exam and if you are more than 20 minutes late you will not be allowed to take the exam.
I drop the lowest test score for all students in recognition that everyone has a bad day. This may
be a test you miss for whatever reason or simply a test that you do poorly on due to some outside
issue (i.e., illness, car problems, etc.) As a word of warning, it is always better to make up a
missed exam and use your drop score for a low score rather than a missed exam.
Test Review: We will review each test in class after the tests have been graded. This is the only
time that you will have to review the answers so do not miss class. You may not make any notes
pertaining to the questions during the test review nor can you have your textbook or notes open.
You are only permitted to verify the right answer.
Quizzes: There will be several random unannounced quizzes. The quizzes are relatively easy
(as long as you study the assigned reading); the test questions will be more demanding. Missed
quizzes may not be made up. Why not? Because:
I will give the answers to that day’s quiz immediately at the end of each quiz.
I cannot coordinate separate make-ups for so many quizzes to so many students.
Part of the rationale for the quizzes is to reward you for being in class, on time, and
prepared to participate in discussion; allowing make-ups would defeat that result.
You will have a small number of free quizzes as I will only count your top 5 quizzes as
part of your quiz average.
Additional Assignments: Throughout the semester you may be given a number of additional
assignments that could include writing exercises, computer simulations, and research
assignments. These assignments, if any, will be announced in class.
Final Examination: A final exam on the material covered during the semester will be taken
during the final class period. The final exam will consist of multiple choice questions that will
account for at least 50 percent of the total value of the final exam. The final exam may also
include essay questions. Essay questions, if any, will account for no more than 50 percent of the
value of the final exam. The number of questions on the final and the proportion of the questions
that are multiple choice and essay will be announced in class at least one week before the final
exam. Again, the questions will be drawn from both the reading material and material discussed
in class
The final exam is mandatory and will not be dropped.
Final Grade: Fifty (50) percent of the final grade is based upon the semester tests and the final
exam. This portion of the grade will be determined by adding the three highest semester test
grades plus the grade from the comprehensive final exam and dividing by four.
Twenty (20) percent of the final grade is based on quizzes.
Twenty (20) percent of the final grade is based on the mandatory written assignment.
Ten (10) percent of the final grade is based on class participation.
The final grade thus will be calculated as follows:
Semester Tests/Final Exam X 0.5 + Quizzes X 0.2 + Written Assignment X 0.2 + Class
Participation X 0.1
The final grade will be based on the following scale:
Classroom Policies:
Classroom Behavior: This is a college class and you are here to receive a university education.
Your success depends on the effort you put into this endeavor. Accordingly, there are certain
expectations that I will have of you during the semester—the most important of which is that you
conduct yourself in a professional manner. Therefore, you will need to adhere to the following
Be on time to class
Turn off your cell phone before I walk into class
No food or eating in the classroom
No talking or passing notes to your classmates during class
Honesty Code: As a student at Houston Community College, you are expected to exhibit
honesty, integrity and high standards in your academic work. Members of the college
community benefit from an open, honest educational environment. We are all responsible to
encourage and promote academic integrity, a code of moral and artistic honesty. Students should
refer to the Student Handbook for policies and procedures on Cheating and Plagiarism.
You will not be allowed to receive assistance from classmates or use notes, books, etc. on any of
the exams. Cheating during any part of an exam will result in a zero (0) for that exam. A zero
received for cheating on an exam will not be dropped as the lowest exam score and it will
be used in computing your final grade. Cheating on an exam will also result in disciplinary
proceedings. Do not discuss the exam with students who have not taken the exam.
Plagiarism: Plagiarism includes the appropriation of another's work and the unacknowledged
incorporation of that work in one's own written work. Collusion includes the unauthorized collaboration
with another person in preparing written work.
Tardiness: Do not be late for class. It is very disruptive to your classmates. Do not expect me
to repeat instructions or other assignments when you arrive late. It is your responsibility to
get all assignments and announcements from your classmates.
Exams start at the beginning of class. Students that arrive late for an exam will have only the
time of that class period to complete the exam. If you are more than twenty (20) minutes late
you will not be allowed to take the exam.
Absences: Students are required to regularly attend all lecture periods. Any student who
exceeds three (3) unexcused absences will have ten (10) points deducted from the class
participation component of his or her grade for each additional unexcused absence up to a total
of 6. Twenty (20) points will be deducted for any unexcused absences in excess of six (6).
It is your responsibility to obtain any missed notes or announcements from your classmates or
from the class web site. In other words, do not call me or email me with questions regarding test
times or what you missed while you are out (this is particularly true if you make it a habit of
missing class). When in doubt refer to the course schedule for material to be covered on each
EGLS3 (Evaluation for Greater Learning Student Survey System):
At Houston Community College, professors believe that thoughtful student feedback is
necessary to improve teaching and learning. During a designated time near the end of the
term, you will be asked to answer a short online survey of research-based questions related to
instruction. The anonymous results of the survey will be made available to your professors and
department chairs for continual improvement of instruction. Go to for
more information.