PSC 103—Principles of American Constitutional Government

Spring 2006 Semester

Course Syllabus

 

I.  Course Number & Title:  

PSC 103—Principles of American Constitutional Government (3 Credits)

Class Location—Internet Course (I01 and I02)

 

II. Prerequisites: 

No prerequisites are required for this course.

 

III.  Catalog Description:                 

PSC 103—Principles of American Constitutional Government. Constitution of the United States and Nevada with attention to various principles and current problems of government.  Satisfies United States and Nevada Constitution requirements. 

 

IV. Course Description:

The course will study numerous aspects of American government and key participants and influences in the political arena.  Topics to be covered include: U.S. and Nevada Constitutions, the Presidency, Congress, the Supreme Court, political parties, interest groups, and the media.  We will also be examining a number of current political events and governmental activities as part of the weekly Bulletin Board Discussions (BBDs).  At the beginning of each week, the following will be provided:

 

1. Key chapter terms and concepts (e.g. politics, anarchy, democracy, political elites).

2. Learning objectives for the week (e.g. “After reading chapter 1, the student should be able to define ‘politics’ and explain its importance to American society.” 

3. Summary outline of the reading chapter.

4. Useful online links and resources to compliment The Basics of American Politics by Gary Wasserman.  These links will also help you with the bulletin board discussions that count for a significant part of your grade as class participation.   

 

These four parts will be provided to you on the WebCT Homepage and referenced by week (e.g. Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, etc.) according to the syllabus and course outline.

 

V.  Instructor Information:

Dr. Danny Gonzales

Great Basin College

1500 College Parkway

Elko, Nevada 89801

Office:  Berg Hall, Room 151

Phone: 775.753.2114

Fax: 775-753.2186

E-mail: dannyg@gbcnv.edu

Office Hours: Call or e-mail to schedule an appointment

VI. Required & Recommended Textbooks and Other Materials:

Wasserman, Gary. 2006. The Basics of American Politics (3rd Edition). New York: Pearson-Longman Publishers.

 

Bowers, Michael B. 2005. The Sagebrush State: Nevada,s History, Government, and Politics (2nd Edition). University of Nevada Press.

 

Additional reading materials will be distributed in class via WebCT and/or placed on reserve in the GBC Library.

 

VII. Grading Policy/Point System:

Grades will be based on the following:

 

Assignment                                                     % of final grade                    

Three (3) examinations                          60%

Seminar participation/attendance                       30%

One (1) quiz (Nevada Constitution)                   10%

 

Note: Late examinations, quizzes, and responses to the bulletin board discussions will be marked down two-thirds of a letter grade.

 

Grades

4.00     A

3.67     A-

3.33     B+

3.00     B

2.67     B-

2.33     C+

2.00     C

1.67     C-

1.33     D+

1.00     D

0.67     D-

0.33     F

 

VIII. Attendance & Class Participation

Participation in bulletin board discussions (BBDs) is essential and accounts for 30% of the final class grade.  Since the class does not meet face-to-face, timely responses to the BBDs.       

 

IX. Select Course Learning Outcomes

Learning outcomes for each chapter will be posted on WebCT.  Upon the successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

 

1. Define “politics” and explain its importance in American society.

2. List and explain the significance of the four major constitutional principles.

3. Explain the president’s influence over public opinion can influence Washington’s policy agenda.

4. Define and explain malapportionment, gerrymandering, and term limits.

5. Understand the evolution of the Supreme Court as a policymaker.

6. Itemize the main functions of a political party.

7. Review the roles of economic interest groups and lobbyist.

 

X.  Course Assignments, Content, & Schedule

There are three examinations that cover The Basics of American Politics (60%), one quiz that covers the Nevada Constitution (10%), and Bulletin Board Discussions (30%) that count for class participation.  The following describes the assignments: 

 

A. Examinations & Quizzes:

The take home examinations and quizzes will be posted to WebCT on a Monday and due on Wednesday.  The examinations and quizzes are open book and consist of multiple choice and true-false questions.    

 

B. Seminar participation/Bulletin Board Discussions: Class participation and postings to the Bulletin Board Discussions are mandatory.  It needs to be stressed that since the class dose not physically meet on a weekly basis, the BBDs count as weekly class participation (30% of total class grade).   Respond to the bulletin prompts and other postings.  Reponses should be thoughtful, concise, and in your own words and based on the required readings in the Basics of American Politics and relevant online resources.  

 

BBD postings and responses follow the timeline below:
 
1. BBD prompt posted by instructor on Monday.
2. BBD closes on Sunday at midnight.
3. Late BBD responses will not be accepted.   

 

Responses should be at least 250 words.  Other responses to your classmates can be shorter.  Ongoing bulletin board discussions (BBD) are recorded as class participation.  Using appropriate net etiquette, you are encouraged to respond to other weekly BBD postings and contribute in the Political Cyber Cafe BBD where current political events and government activities will be discussed.   

 

The class has a BBD entitled “Political Cyber Cafe.”  This BBD is set-up to discuss current political events and share relevant online resources related this course.   Welcome to the Political Cyber Cafe!  This BBD is set-up to discuss current political events and share relevant online resources related this course. Online resources will be posted related to the weekly Bulletin Board Discussions (BBDs) as the semester progresses.  

 

 

           

X. PSC 103: Tentative Course Schedule

The following is the schedule for the spring 2006 semester, including bulletin board discussion, examinations, quizzes, and online assignments:  

 

Week

 

Topic

 

Reading(s)

 

Date Posted

 

Due Date

 

 

Wasserman

 

 

Week 1

Jan. 23

 

Introductions

What is Politics?

 

Chapter 1

BBD #1

Monday

Jan. 23

Sunday

Jan. 29

Week 2

Jan 30

 

The Constitution: Rules of the Game

Chapter 2

BBD #2

Monday

Jan. 30

Sunday

Feb. 5

Week 3

Feb. 6

 

The Executive Branch: The Presidency & Bureaucracy

 

Chapter 3

BBD #3

Monday

Feb. 6

Sunday

Feb. 12

Week 4

Feb. 13

 

The Legislative Branch: Congress

Chapter 4

BBD #4

Monday

Feb. 13

Sunday

Feb. 19

Week 5

Feb. 20

 

EXAM #1

(Covers Week 1-4)

 

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EXAM #1

Monday

Feb. 20

Wednesday

Feb. 22

Week 6

Feb. 27

 

The Judicial Branch: The Supreme Court & the Federal Court System

 

Chapter 5

BBD #5

Monday

Feb. 27

Sunday

March 5

Week 7

March 6

 

The Judicial Branch (continued)

Chapter 5

BBD #6

Monday

March 6

Sunday

March 12

Week 8

March 13

 

Civil Rights & Liberties: Protecting the Players

 

Chapter 6

BBD #7

Monday

March 13

Sunday

March 19

Week 9

March 20

 

EXAM #2

(Covers Weeks 6-8)

 

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EXAM #2

Monday

March 20

Wednesday

March 22

Week 10

March 27

 

 

SPRING BREAK

 

 

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Week 11

April 3

 

Nevada Constitution

 

Bowers

BBD #8

Monday

April 3

Sunday

April 9

Week 12

April 10

 

Nevada Constitution (continued)

Bowers

BBD #9

Monday

April 10

Sunday

April 16

Week 13

April 17

 

QUIZ #1

(Covers Weeks 11 and 12)

 

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QUIZ #1

Monday

April 17

Wednesday

April 19

Week 14

April 24

 

Voters & Political Parties

 

Chapter 7

BBD #10

Monday

April 24

Sunday

April 30

Week 15

May 1

 

Interest Groups & the Media

 

Chapter 8

BBD #11

Monday

May 1

Sunday

May 7

Week 16

May 8

 

Who Wins, Who Loses: Pluralism v. Elitism

Chapter 9

BBD #12

Monday

May 8

Sunday

May 14

Finals Week

May 15-19

EXAM #3

(Covers Weeks 14-16)

 

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EXAM #3

Monday

May 15

Wednesday

May 17

 

(1) Refer to WebCT for updated information on class schedule. (2) The instructor reserves the right to modify the syllabus during the semester. (3) Proper net etiquette is to be used during the course of the semester, and flaming should be reported to the instructor immediately.