AMERICAN NATIONAL GOVERNMENT:  ON-LINE

 

Spring 2009

 

Instructor:  Mike Nagle

 

COURSE DESCRIPTION

 

This course will survey the origins and evolution of the government of the United States.  It will describe the development of the Constitution and the functions of the legislative, executive and judicial branches.  The impact that political parties, interest groups, and the media have on the government also will be covered.  Basically, it is designed to demonstrate how the American political system actually works.

 

TEXTS/SUPPLIES

 

Susan Welch, Understanding American Government (Required)

 

          Sid Jacobson & Ernie Colón, The 9/11 Report:  A Graphic Interpretation

 

          Khaled Hosseini, A Thousand Splendid Sons (Required)

 

          Cd-Rom:  contains all lecture materials (Required)

 

GRADING

 

Exam #1

   12.5%

Exam #2

   12.5%

Exam #3

   12.5%

Exam #4

   12.5%

Summary/Analysis of either  911 Report or Thousand Splendid Sons

   10%

Quiz over  911 Report

     7.5%

Quiz over Thousand Splendid Sons

     7.5%

Discussion/Participation

   25%

 

STATEMENT OF EXPLANATION

 

An on-line course is much different than a face-to face course.  The top experts in the field of on-line education estimate that a three credit course requires a minimum of 135 hours of student work.  Experts also state that there is a direct link between the number of times students log-on to an on-line course site and the grade students receive.  The higher the number of times a student logs-on to the course, in general, the higher the student’s grade.  With that in mind, following the first week of class, this class typically has three activities due each week (Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays at 11:00 PM).  In most cases, each assignment or exam could be completed well before the date they are due.  The reason why specific due dates & times for assignments are included is to ensure students don’t fall behind. 

 

OFFICE HOURS

 

Office Hours:  M/W 9:00-10:00 AM; T/Th 2:00-3:00 PM aba; my office is ASC 302f

          Phone:  (231) 843-5905

          E-mail:  mwnagle@westshore.edu

          Homepage:  http://www.westshore.edu/personal/MWNagle/

 

The college computer help desk phone number is:  (231) 843-5570

If you are having problems with Moodle contact: 

 

·        Chris Potter at (231) 843-5782; cspotter@westshore.edu

·        Patti Davidson at (231) 843-5830; pldavidson@westshore.edu

 

COURSE GOALS

 

1.     Students will be able to describe how the constitutional basis of the United States government was formed and how it has evolved over time.

2.     Students will be able to identify the major issues which divide the Democratic & Republican parties.

3.     Students will be able to identify how the political process in the United States actually works and be able to become involved themselves, if they so choose.

4.     Written work, reading materials, and course requirements are designed to develop and enhance students’ analytical, writing, communication skills, and computer literacy.

 

COURSE OUTLINE AND READINGS

 

Note:  Specific dates for discussions, assignments, and exams are included in this calendar.  Some changes may need to be made, if so, they will be announced on the Blackboard course page and/or through e-mail.

 

Section 1:  Origins of the Constitution

 

Week I

January 12-18

Read Welch Ch. 1, 2

Course Orientation Monday Jan 12 4:00 PM, TC 214

Assignments:

·        Introduction/Biography: due Tues 1/13  by 11:00 PM

·        Send practice e-mail attachment of Word or RTF Document to me: due Wed 1/14 by 11:00 PM

·        Response to another Bio: due Fri 1/16 by 11:00 PM

·        Comments on Lecture01 posting:  due Sun 1/18 by 11:00 PM

Lecture01-Constitution

Week II

January 19-25

Read Welch Ch. 2, 3, begin 9/11 Commission

Assignments/Exam:

·        Comments on Lecture02 posting:  due Tues 1/20 by 11:00 PM

·        Comments on Lecture03 posting:  due Fri 1/23 by 11:00 PM

Lecture02-Constitution2;

Lecture03 -Federalism

Week III

January 26, 27

Assignments/Exam:

·        Exam #1: must be taken by Tues 1/27 at 11:00 PM

 

 

 

Section 2:  Civil Rights & Civil Liberties

 

Week III

January 28-Feb 1

Continue 9/11 Commission

Assignments:

·        9/11 Commission Posting #1: due Fri 1/30 by 11:00 PM

·        Comments on Lecture04 posting:  due Sun 2/1 by 11:00 PM

Lecture04-Civil Rights

 

Week IV

February 2-8

Read Welch 15, continue 9/11 Commission

Assignments:

·        Movie Posting #1: due Tues 2/3 by 11:00 PM

·        9/11 Commission posting #2: due Fri 2/6 by 11:00 PM

·        Movie Response Posting #1: due Sun 2/8 by 11:00 PM

 

Week V

February 9-15

Continue 9/11 Commission

Assignments:

·        9/11 Commission posting #3: due Tues 2/10 by 11:00 PM

·        Comments on Lecture05 posting:  due Fri 2/13 by 11:00 PM

·        9/11 Commission posting #4: due Sun 2/15 by 11:00 PM

Lecture05-Civil Liberties

 

Week VI

February 16-22

Finish 9/11 Commission

NO ASSIGNMENTS Feb 16-21:  STAFF IN-SERVICE

·        9/11 Commission Quiz: must be taken by Sun 2/22 by 11:00 PM

 

Week VII

February 23-March 1

Read Welch Ch. 14, 4

Assignments/Exam:

·        Comments on Lecture06 posting: due Tues 2/24 by 11:00 PM

·        9/11 Commission  Paper: due Fri 2/27 by 11:00 PM

Lecture06-Public Opinion

Week VIII

March 2-3

Assignments/Exam:

·        Exam #2: must be taken by Tues 3/3 at 11:00 PM

 

 

Section 3:  Links Between the Government & People

 

Week VIII

March 4-8

Read Welch Ch. 7, 8 begin A Thousand Splendid Sons

Assignments:

·        A Thousand Splendid Sons posting #1: due Fri 3/6 by 11:00 PM

·        Comments on Lecture07 posting:  due Sun 3/811:00 PM

o       Includes visit to website about your political views

Lecture07-Political Parties

Week IX

March 9-15

Read Welch Ch. 6, 9, continue A Thousand Splendid Sons

Assignments:

·        Movie Posting #2: due Tues 3/10 by 11:00 PM

·        Comments on Lecture08 posting:  due Fri 3/13 11:00 PM

·        Movie Response Posting #2: due Sun 3/15 by 11:00 PM

Lecture08-Interest Groups & Money

Week X

March 16-22

Read Welch Ch. 10, continue A Thousand Splendid Sons

Assignments:

·        Comments on Lecture09 posting:  due Tues 3/17 11:00 PM

·        A Thousand Splendid Sons posting #2: due Fri 3/20 by 11:00 PM

Lecture09-Congress1

Week XI

March 23-29

Continue A Thousand Splendid Sons

Assignments/Exams:

·        Exam #3: must be taken by Tues 3/24 by 11:00 PM

 

Week XII

March 30-April 5

SPRING BREAK:  NO CLASS!

 

 

Section 4:  Three Branches of Government

 

Week XIII

April 6-12

Read Welch Ch. 10, continue A Thousand Splendid Sons

Assignments:

·        A Thousand Splendid Sons posting #3: due Tues 4/7 by 11:00 PM

·        Comments on Lecture10 posting: due Fri 4/10 by 11:00 PM

·        NO ASSIGNMENTS DUE 4/12:  EASTER SUNDAY

Lecture10-Congress2

Week XIV

April 13-19

Read Welch Ch. 11, finish A Thousand Splendid Sons

Assignments:

·        Comments on Lecture11 posting: due 4/14 by 11:00 PM

·        A Thousand Splendid Sons posting #4: due Fri 4/17 by 11:00 PM

·        A Thousand Splendid Sons Quiz: must be taken by Sun 4/19 by 11:00 PM

Lecture 11-Presidency

Week XV

April 20-26

Read Welch Ch. 13

Assignments/Exams:

·        Movie Posting #3: due Tues 4/21 by 11:00 PM

·        Comments on Lecture12 posting: due Fri 4/24  by 11:00 PM

Lecture12- Judiciary

Week XVI

April 27-May 3

Assignments /Exams:

·        A Thousand Splendid Sons Paper: due Tues 4/28 by 11:00 PM

·        Movie Response Posting #3: due Fri 5/1 by 11:00 PM

 

Week XVII

May 4-5

Assignments/Exams:

·        Exam #4: must be taken by Tues 5/5 at 11:00 PM

·        ALL Course material must be submitted 5/5 by 11:00 PM

 

 

POLICIES

 

1.     Exams must be taken and received by me, by the time/date outlined above or they will be unavailable.  I plan to make them available about five days before the date they must be taken, so you may take them early.   I will post a study guide on my homepage which will identify key terms and the possible essay questions for each exam.   If you are sick or have experienced an emergency contact me, prior to or the day the exam is due to let me know so that we can determine when/if a make-up can be administered.  If a make-up is administered, it will be an all-essay exam.  Students have up to two weeks to take a make-up exam.

2.     Incompletes are only used in an emergency and students must have completed at least 50% of the course with a 70% or above to receive an Incomplete.

3.     Logging on to the Moodle site is like attendance in class.  Announcements will be posted to the Moodle site if emergencies arise.  Students are responsible to keep informed if any changes to the course schedule are posted as a result of unforeseen circumstances. 

4.     Plagiarism can be defined as “to steal and use the ideas and writings of another as one’s own” (American Heritage Dictionary).  Written assignments must acknowledge when a direct quote is taken or another person’s ideas are paraphrased.  If a source is not cited, this is plagiarism.  Copying another student's ideas and/or paper is cheating.  Sometimes the class will discuss lectures and readings as a group, but each student must turn in their own paper and exams with their own ideas.  This is also true when posting comments to the discussion board.  If you’re using information from a website, or another outside source, for an exam or a posting in a discussion forum make sure to include a citation (if a website is used you may simply copy & paste the URL into your posting, or include it at the end of your essay for exams, to show where the material was found).  If you are unsure what you should do, ask me.   Plagiarism and/or cheating are grounds for failing an exam, assignment, or even the entire course.  If you are unsure what you should do, ask me!

 

DISCUSSION GRADE

 

Participation in discussion will make up 25% of your grade in this course.  The discussions will take place over the web using Moodle Discussion Forums.  To earn a C for an individual posting, the posting must be AT LEAST TEN SENTENCES in length, unless specified otherwise, and keep in mind that it will probably be easier to make all postings (particularly movie postings) much longer than ten sentences.  Late postings are accepted, but each posting also must be made on time to receive full credit.  To earn a higher grade, the responses will be evaluated based upon the following criteria:

·        Relevance to the topic at hand

·        Originality & demonstration that postings made by other students have been read

·        Depth/breadth of response—demonstrates critical thought, research, thorough understanding of subject matter

·        Accuracy

·        Citation of source (if information from a website is used, it MUST be cited)

 

Posting Grade

Description of Work

A

Contains detailed and accurate information from lecture, film, or readings. Demonstrates a thorough understanding of subject matter.  Includes original thought and analysis.  Compares & integrates information for the assignment to other sources included in the class (such as previous lecture material; links films or readings to lecture, text, other films, or additional sources).  Postings are well written (with correct grammar & spelling) and argued.

B

Demonstrates the readings, lectures, or films have been viewed and understood, but might lack detail.  Includes original thought, but analysis could be stronger.  Could use comparison to additional sources.  Postings are well written (with correct grammar & spelling) and argued.

C

Demonstrates lecture, readings or film have been read and understood, but might need detail and analysis.  Lacks original thought and may repeat information which has previously been discussed by others in the class.  Postings are well written (with correct grammar & spelling).

 

There will be four primary types of postings to be made to the Discussion Boards:

 

·        Biography (a total of two responses)

o       Post a one to two paragraph biography of yourself; you may want to describe where you live, your major, the number of college classes & on-line classes you’ve taken, what you would like to learn in the class and what you like to do for fun.

o       Reply to at least one other biography.  Maybe you have something in common with someone else, even if it’s only your “hatred” of history or the fact that you live in the same town.

·        Movies (a total of at least six responses and there are two types)

o       Summarize & evaluate the movie you’ve chosen to watch (three are required).  The evaluation should relate the movie’s content to lecture and also should comment on its accuracy from an historical point of view.   You may want to research information about your film on the internet to learn about the film’s accuracy/inaccuracy.  If research has been done make sure to include a URL of the website(s) you’ve visited in your posting.

o       Evaluate the historical accuracy, link to lecture, comment, or ask a question based upon the postings made by other students in regards to their summary of the movie they watched (three are required).

·        Comments on lectures (at least twelve responses)

o       You may comment on items you find to be interesting in each lecture and you may also follow imbedded hyperlinks which are included in the lecture.  The hyperlinks will take you to sites on the internet which investigate in more detail the issues covered in the lecture.  If you do investigate the imbedded hyperlinks, or do your own research, please make sure to include a URL of the website(s) you’ve visited.

o       Another possibility is to respond to questions posted by myself or other students.  Essentially the questions will be designed to determine if the lectures have been viewed & understood.  Questions are also designed to provide help prepare for each exam.

·        Comments on the books 9/11 Commission & A Thousand Splendid Sons  (at least eight responses)

o       You may comment on items you find to be interesting in the readings.  You also may want to investigate websites which may provide additional information about the assigned book and its author.

o       Another possibility is to respond to questions posted by myself or other students.  Essentially the questions will be designed to determine if the readings in the book have been completed. They may also help to provide ideas for the Summary/Analysis paper.

 

EXAMS AND WRITTEN ASSIGNMENTS

 

·        There will be four exams based upon lecture and discussion.  I have placed a study guide for each exam on my homepage.  This should form the basis for your studying.  The exams will be based primarily on lecture material, but students are responsible for information included in the required readings and discussions.  There also will be two quizzes during the semester over each of the two required books.  The text is required reading for this class, but you will not be tested on anything from the text that is not posted on the study guide for each exam.  Use the text to fill in any “gaps” in lecture notes.  A set of questions will be available for the additional writing assignments.  Correct grammar and spelling are important.

·        Each exam will consist of two parts:  one part is objective and will be taken at the course site on Moodle.  The other part is essay.  There will be three possible essays for each exam; you may choose to answer any two of those three.  The completed essays must be sent to me via an e-mail attachment by the time & date listed in the course calendar.  The essays must be composed using either MS Word or they must be saved as a Rich Text File (rtf) in order to allow me to view them.  The quizzes over each of the two required books will be multiple choice and may be taken at the course site on Moodle.

·        In order for the quiz segment to work on the Moodle website, Firefox must be used (rather than Internet Explorer) as your web browser.  This can be downloaded for free to your home computer.  To access Firefox you can simply type “Firefox” into any search engine, but there is also a hyperlink to the site on the course webpage.

 

WRITING SUCCESSFUL ESSAYS AND CITATIONS FOR EXAMS

 

·        Make sure to write a well-organized essay that includes an introduction (including thesis statement), body & conclusion.  Look at my homepage and Moodle site for tips on writing good essays.

·        The #1 source to be used as a basis for the essays is lecture material.  No outside research (other than the lectures and textbook) is needed for the essays.  In fact; it’s discouraged.  Information taken from the lectures does NOT need to be cited (the lectures are clearly an obvious source for the essays, so they would fall under the category of “Personal Communication”).  However, if the text is quoted or paraphrased it must be cited.  If any websites or additional sources are used, they too must be cited.  If you’re using information from a website or another outside source for an exam, you may simply copy & paste the URL and include it at the end of your essay to show where the material was found.

 

GRADING POLICY

 

Late assignments are accepted for up to one week, but they are penalized 10% for the first late day, and 5% for each additional late day. 

 

Letter Grade

Total Percentage

Description of Work

A

94-100

 

Superior work; essays contain strong thesis and logical argument; includes analysis, supporting facts and relevant information; well organized and well written.  Includes information from lectures, outside readings, films, speakers, and discussions.

A-

90-93

B+

88-89

Above average work; essays contain strong thesis, but might lack focus and organization; includes analysis; generally well written and argued; information is strong but missing some points; arguments could use more support.

B

84-87

B-

80-83

C+

78-79

Average work; essays contain no thesis or thesis is weak; pertinent information is included, but could use more evidence and stronger organization; understanding of course content is shown but contains little analysis.

C

74-77

C-

70-73

D+

68-69

Poor work; essays lack coherent argument and are poorly written; information is missing and/or incorrect.

D

64-67

D-

60-63

F

Below 60

Failure; lacking correct information; lack of effort is shown.