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POLS 1100: US National Government and PoliticsTICE


OFFICE: Bingham High School Rm B202
HOURS: During class or Conference
PHONE: Online

POLS 1100SEMESTER: Fall 2015

PLACE: Bingham High School

I noticed during my stay in the United States that a democratic state of society similar to that found there
could lay itself peculiarly open to the establishment of a despotism.
--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Volume II (1840)
Course Requirements
A proactive and engaged college student should do well in this course. Instead of having a few large
assignments, it features the following mix of small assignments:
QuizzesSeven online quizzes worth a total of 100 points.

Discussions14 online discussions worth a total of 10 points.

Three in-Class Projects60 points

EPortfolio Outline Assignment10 points

Final ePortfolio Assignment and Reflection20 points

Participation on Projects20 points

Learning Outcomes
The main objective of POLS 1100 is to help students attain a broad understanding of the institutions and
practices of the U.S. government and political system. The learning outcomes of this course match the
college-wide learning outcomes established by Salt Lake Community College in the following ways.
SLCC Learning Outcome #1: Upon successful completion of any program, students should acquire
substantive knowledge in the discipline of their choice sufficient for further study, and/or demonstrate
competencies required by employers to be hired and succeed in the workplace.
POLS 1100 Learning Outcomes: At the end of this course students should be able to:
Demonstrate that they understand key concepts, events and personalities relating to the
Constitutional foundations of U.S. government.
Demonstrate that they understand key concepts, events and personalities relating to the major
national-level governing institutions.
Demonstrate that they understand key concepts, events and personalities relating to political
behavior and linkage institutions.
Demonstrate that they understand key concepts, events and personalities relating to the civil
liberties and civil rights of people living in the United States.
SLCC Learning Outcome #2: Upon successful completion of any program, students should be able to
communicate effectively.
POLS 1100 Learning Outcome: At the end of this course students should be able to:

Effectively communicate orally or in writing about the key concepts above, or about other
significant topics in U.S. politics.
Construct an electronic portfolio that professionally mixes text and images.

SLCC Learning Outcome #3: Upon successful completion of any program, students should develop
quantitative literacies necessary for their chosen field of study.
POLS 1100 Learning Outcome: At the end of this course students should be able to:
Use and interpret information presented as data, graphs, and tables relevant to analyzing political
behavior, public policy, and/or the historical development of the U.S. political system.
SLCC Learning Outcome #4: Upon successful completion of any program, students should be able to
think critically.
POLS 1100 Learning Outcome: At the end of this course students should be able to:
Demonstrate in writing that they understand key aspects of critical thinking such as claims and
evidence analysis and identification of fallacious argumentation within the context of the theory
and/or practice of U.S. politics.
SLCC Learning Outcome #5: Upon successful completion of any program, students should develop the
knowledge and skills to be civically engaged.
POLS 1100 Learning Outcome: At the end of this course student should:
Possess sufficient knowledge about U.S. national government and politics to be civically
SLCC Learning Outcome #6: Upon successful completion of any program, students should develop the
knowledge and skills to work with others in a professional and constructive manner.
POLS 1100 Learning Outcome: At the end of this course student should:
Work with classmates on several projects, producing professional results.
SLCC Learning Outcome #7: Upon successful completion of any program, students should develop
computer and information literacy.
POLS 1100 Learning Outcome: At the end of this course student should:
Create an electronic portfolio of their work in this course and at SLCC.

Use computer hardware and software to complete course assignments.

Use credible sources in their work.

Properly cite the sources they use in their work.

SLCC Learning Outcome #8: Upon successful completion of any program, students should develop the
attitudes and skills for lifelong wellness.
POLS 1100 Learning Outcome: Not applicable.
Course Readings

There are two ways to get the course textbook: purchasing this book as a hardcopy or accessing it as an
e-book. Here is the link:
ISBN: 1-285-43841-8; 978-1-285-43841-2

American Government and Politics Today, Brief Edition, 2014-2015, 8th Edition, Schmidt,
Shelley, Bardes
Learning Modules
This course is organized around learning modules, each with its own set of readings, documents,
discussions, exercises, problems, and quizzes. There are six learning modules for course content, plus the
introductory learning module. Ive put full descriptions of the discussion prompts, problems, and essay
prompts later in the syllabus, but here is the schedule:
Introductory ModuleIn this section, well get to know each other. While we do that, youll
have time to explore the course site and begin to read the course materials. The requirements for
this section are:
o Aug 24-Aug 29Introduce Yourself Discussion. (10 points)
o Aug 27-29Quiz on the syllabus, discussion guidelines, and how to succeed in this
course. (10 points)
Module OneIn this learning module well talk about what it means to think like a political
scientist. The graded requirement for this section is:
o Aug 31- Sept 5 Five Very Powerful Questions Discussion (10 points)
Module TwoIn this learning module well cover the Constitutional foundations of the
American polity, and the relationship between the founding and economic theory and practice.
The graded requirements for this section are:
o Sept 10-12 A Quiz on the course readings. In order to prepare for this quiz you should
read chapter one of the text carefully several times, and watch and read everything for
Module One on the content site. (15 points)
o Sept 14-19Reactions to the Constitution Discussion. (10 points)
o Sept 19First ePortfolio Assignment (10 points)
o Sept 24-26A Quiz on the course readings. In order to prepare for this quiz you should
read chapter two of the text carefully several times, and watch and read everything for
Module Two on the content site. (15 points)
o Sept 24-25Project One DueResearch Report. (20 points)
Module ThreeIn this learning module well cover linkage institutions such as political parties,
organized interests, and the media. The graded requirements for this section are:
o Sept 28-Oct 3Political Advertisements Discussion. (10 points)
o Oct 5-10Campaign Finance Discussion (10 points)
o Oct 12-17Media Discussion (10 points)
Module FourIn this learning module well cover the national governing
institutionsCongress, the Presidency, and the Supreme Court, with
emphasis on how these national institutions work togetherand against each
otheron domestic and foreign policy. The graded requirements for this
section are:




Oct 19-24Congress Discussion (10 points)

Oct 29-31 A Quiz on the course readings. In order to prepare for this
quiz you should read chapter nine of the text carefully several times,
and watch and read everything for Module Four on the content site. (15
Nov 2-7Presidential Rhetoric Discussion. (10 points)
Nov12-14Quiz on the course readings. In order to prepare for this
quiz you should read chapter ten of the text carefully several times,
and watch and read everything for Module Four on the content site. (15
Nov 16-21Judiciary Discussion (10 points)
Nov 23-24A Quiz on the course readings. In order to prepare for this
quiz you should read chapter twelve of the text carefully several times,
and watch and read everything for Module Four on the content site. (15
Nov 19-20Project Two DueResponsible Voter Newsletter. (20 points)

Module FiveIn this learning module well cover domestic policy. The
graded requirements for this section are:
o Nov 30-Dec 5Healthcare Discussion
o Dec 10-12A Quiz on the course readings. In order to prepare for this
quiz you should read chapter thirteen of the text carefully several
times, and watch and read everything for Module Five on the content
site. (15 points)
o Dec 14-19Discussion of Foreign Affairs
o Dec 17-18 Project Three DuePoster Presentations. (20 points)

Module SixIn this learning module well cover civil rights and civil liberties.
The graded requirements for this section are:
o Jan 4-9Civil Liberties Discussion (10 points)
o Jan 11-16Civil Liberties Discussion (10 points)
o Jan 18-21Seneca Falls Declaration Discussion. (10 points)
o Dec 2-10Internal Course Evaluation. (Not graded, but I would like
your honest feedback on this)
o Jan 8Final ePortfolio Assignment and Reflection due (20 points)
o Jan 20-21Participation Grade given (20 points)

Course Components
QuizzesQuizzes will consist multiple choice questions and will closely track the course text. They will
be given on dates indicated on the schedule, so you will have plenty of advanced notice. Notice that
quizzes are worth more as the course proceeds. This is due to the fact that each successive quiz will not
only cover the new material, but will also incorporate a few questions about previous sections. They will
be open for three days so you can take them any time within that period.

Each student in General Education courses at SLCC maintains a General Education ePortfolio. Instructors
in every Gen Ed course will ask you to put at least one assignment from the course into your ePortfolio,
and accompany it with reflective writing. It is a requirement in this class for you to add to your ePortfolio
Projects 1, 2 and 3, as well as a reflection. This syllabus details the assignment(s) and reflection(s) you
are to include. Your ePortfolio will allow you to include your educational goals, describe your
extracurricular activities, and post your resume. When you finish your time at SLCC, your ePortfolio will
then be a multi-media showcase of your educational experience. For detailed information visit Make sure to check out the Info for Students page.
After you have picked an ePortfolio platform, go to the corresponding help site to watch the tutorials and
look at the examples so you can get started on your own:
If you would like to start your ePortfolio in a computer lab with a person there to help you, sign up online
for one of the free workshops at the Taylorsville-Redwood library: You may also visit an ePortfolio Lab (in the TaylorsvilleRedwood Library LIB 047 as well as in HTC 102a on the Jordan Campus) during business hours, and
staff will help you without an appointment. Finally, questions regarding the ePortfolio can be directed to
This course fulfills the Social Science (SS) requirement for the General Education Program at Salt Lake
Community College. It is designed not only to teach the information and skills required by the discipline,
but also to develop vital workplace skills and to teach strategies and skills that can be used for life-long
learning. General Education courses teach basic skills as well as broaden a students knowledge of a wide
range of subjects. Education is much more than the acquisition of facts; it is being able to use information
in meaningful ways in order to enrich ones life.
While the subject of each course is important and useful, we become truly educated through making
connections of such varied information with the different methods of organizing human experience that
are practiced by different disciplines. Therefore, this course, when combined with other General
Education courses, will enable you to develop broader perspectives and deeper understandings of your
community and the world, as well as challenge previously held assumptions about the world and its
Students with medical, psychological, learning or other disabilities desiring accommodations or services
under ADA, should contact the Disability Resource Center (DRC). The DRC determines eligibility for
and authorizes the provision of these accommodations and services for the college. Please contact the
DRC at the Student Center, Suite 244, Redwood Campus, 4600 So. Redwood Rd, 84123. Phone: (801)
957-4659, TTY: 957-4646, Fax: 957- 4947 or by
Faculty can refer students who disclose a disability to the DRC. If a student is struggling in your class but
has not disclosed a disability, we recommend that you provide a list of resources which includes the DRC.
For example, you might refer the student to Academic Advising, the Learning Center as well as the DRC.
You can include any resources you think might be beneficial to that student. This is an effective way to let
the student know that the DRC is an option, but you are not telling them that you regard them as having a

Plagiarism is taking credit for another persons words, works, and ideas or failing to acknowledge that
persons words, works, and ideas. If you borrow from someone else you must give that person credit
through proper citations.
The first offense in which students are caught plagiarizing or cheating on assignments and tests will result
in the failure of that assignment. A second offense may result in course failure. For more information, see
TITLE IX INFORMATION: 20 U.S.C.A. Section 1681 (a): TITLE IX
No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied
benefit of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal
Examples of violations (but not limited to):
Sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and sexually motivated physical conduct
Overt or subtle pressure for sexual activity
Sexually offensive verbalization including remarks, teasing, slurs, and innuendo
Repeated inappropriate jokes or comments about sex or gender specific traits
Conduct that is demeaning or derisive and occurs substantially because of ones gender
Sexual assault
Sexual Violence
Gender based disparate treatment
Violations can occur in any college environment, such as (but not limited to):
Field Trips
Student Clubs

On Campus Events

If you have questions or concerns regarding your rights or responsibilities, or if you would like to file a
Title IX complaint please contact:
StudentsDr. Marlin Clark, Dean of Students, 801-957-4776, STC 276 A (Redwood)
Employees or Community membersKen Stonebrook, Title IX & Discrimination Manager, 801-957-5027, AAB 211G (Redwood)
Online Reporting Form

Salt Lake Community College has a strong prohibition against RETALIATION! The college does not
tolerate acts of retaliation against anyone for engaging in filing a complaint or participating in an
DiscussionsThis course relies heavily on discussion pedagogy. Every learning module has one
discussion, and they run from Monday morning to Saturday evening. Each discussion is worth 10 points.
You must be proactive and participate in these discussions several times during the week. Discussions
cannot be made up if you miss them. The discussion grading criteria appear later in this syllabus.
In-Class ProjectsStudents will complete three in-class projects designed to have them think and act
like political scientists. These projects are described in the course Canvas site, and will be worth 20 points
each. In addition, your participation on all three projects will be worth an additional 20 points.
Other Useful Information
ParticipationThis course places a high burden on students to participate. Theres no other way to say
this: you must be proactive and self-disciplined or you will not do well in this course. While there is
no participation grade per se in the online portion of this course, everything in it requires that you be
actively engaged in your own education. This syllabus and the online course calendar tell you when
discussions are open and when they close, when essay assignments are due, and when exams are held. It
is your responsibility to participate in those discussions, complete those assignments, and take those
exams. It is also your responsibility to keep track of your assignment scores and contact me immediately
if you have any questions about them, rather than waiting until the end of the term and being surprised by
your grade. The in-class portion of this course does feature a participation grade.
Late assignmentsIf you fail to turn in an assignment on time, it can drop one letter grade per day late
depending on the validity of the excuse. I will grade a discussion once it is closed, and your grade will
reflect your comments (or lack thereof) up to that closing date. You cannot make up for lack of
participation in a discussion. Missed quizzes cannot be made up without specific documentation of a
debilitating three-day condition precisely when the exam was scheduled. You should identify an
alternative place from which to access the Internet should your primary access go down.
Final gradeswill be calculated according to how many points you receive on class assignments,
relative to the maximum number of points. I use a ten-point scale where those receiving 90% or more of
the possible points earn an A, those with 80-89% of the possible points earn a B, and so on. Pluses and
minuses are given to percentages within three points of the next letter grade (with one exception; the cutoff from an A to an A- is at 94% rather than 93%). I do not curve grades, nor do I offer extra credit points.
You can see the grades for all the assignments in the course site, so you should be able to see how youre
doing by dividing the number of points youve received by the number of possible points up to that point
in the course.
HelpIf you have any questions about the course, email me from within the course. Use the email at the
top of this syllabus only if you cannot access the course at all. If you do email me at the MyMail
account outside of the course, please specify which of my online courses you are enrolled in, because
I have several. If youre having trouble getting into the course, you should call the SLCC Online support
center at (801) 957-4406 or 1-888-963-7522. You may also call the Technical Help Desk at (801) 9575555.

Discussion Grading Criteria

When I grade online discussions, I consider the following characteristics:
1. How active has the student been in making posts? In order to get above a C (average6 or
7 out of 10) grade for discussions, students must post one substantive comment of their own plus
respond effectively to the original posts of at least two of their classmates. In addition, you are
responsible to respond to others in the thread that you started with your original post. All of this
must be spread out over multiple days during the discussion, rather than all on one day.
2. Is the student reading all posts from others, or only a few?
3. Are the posts evenly distributed during the discussion period rather than concentrated all on
one day at the beginning or end of the period?
4. Do the posts consist of full paragraphs and complete sentences? Usually two full paragraphs
are sufficient, but you should err on the side of elaboration.
5. Do comments stay on topic?
6. Do the posts should contribute to the discussion in a meaningful way? Simply posting
variants of I agree or I disagree does not constitute a meaningful contribution.
7. Are the posts consciously reflective? This means that the author reflects on his/her own
thinking, on what other classmates are writing, and/or on what the class reading has to say.
8. Do the posts make concise, effective reference to course readings or other materials? Quote
extensively if you absolutely need to in order to make your point, but paraphrasing works best in
most cases, e.g., So and so said this in the such and such article, but I think thats contradicted
by subsequent events like. . . .
9. Do the posts indicate a thoughtful comment that is well-organized, rather than something that
reads like it was dashed off quickly?
10. Do the posts make substantial points, bring in new evidence or lines of argument, or pose
interesting questions, all of which stimulate others to respond with serious comments of their
11. Is the language in the posts professional and reasonable? Disrespect, offensive language
(unless its appropriate to your argumentIm not a prude), and personal attacks are
unacceptable. This class is a community of scholars, not a forum for vulgarity, lowbrow humor,
or personal rivalry.
12. Can the student disagree with others without causing a personalized spat?
13. Are spelling and grammatical errors fairly infrequent?
Using these criteria, Ill assign grades on a 10-point scale, where 10 equals excellent, 8-9 equals very
good, 6-7 equals average, 4-5 equals below average, 1-3 equals poor, and zero means the student
did not contribute in the specified time.

How to Succeed in This Course

This is not a closely guarded secret. I suggest you do the following:
1. Print this syllabus and look it over carefully. Ask me any questions you have about it.
2. Print out the course text and fill a 3-ring binder with it and the syllabus. Read both carefully.
3. For any given learning module, read the relevant portion of the text several times, listen to the
relevant podcasts once, and do the online exercises until you can do them without reference to
the text. It is important to be familiar with these key concepts, persons, and events.
4. Every time you log in to the course, check to see if you have any announcements or emails.
5. Participate in each discussion on at least three of the six days its open.
6. Be proactive and take charge of your own educationhow much you get out of this course is in
large part determined by how involved you are.
7. This is a three (3) credit hour course, so you should anticipate spending six (6) hours per week
reading, listening to podcasts, doing the exercises, participating in discussions, writing essays,
doing assignments, and taking quizzes.
Full Descriptions of Online Discussion Prompts and Assignments
Introductory Discussion: We want to use this discussion to introduce ourselves. Each student should
make an initial post consisting of two full paragraphs. In the first paragraph, tell us about yourself: Where
you are from; your educational background; hobbies and interests; favorite movies and books; best
vacation ever; proudest/most embarrassing/most frightening moment; career plans; etc. In the second
paragraph, tell us about you as a political person: Do you vote? Do you discuss political issues with
friends and family? What are the most important issues to you? Why? What would you do if you could
pass one federal law or constitutional amendment? Also, comment on at least two of your classmates
Project 1 AssignmentResearch Problem: To What Extent do Candidate Personal Characteristics
Affect Voter Impressions?
OverviewIn small groups, you will conduct a research survey to determine whether voter
impressions of candidates are affected by the candidates race, gender, sexual orientation, or
religion. Once you have gathered and analyzed your data, each individual in the group will write
up a research report.
PurposeThe purpose of this assignment is to have you engage in a real-world political research
exercise. This project reinforces concepts and information from the Thinking Like a Political
Scientist section of the course text. The assignment speaks directly to one of Salt Lake
Community Colleges primary learning outcomes for all its studentsnamely that they improve
their quantitative literacy skills. Since you will be working in a group, you will also be practicing
your skills at collaborating to produce a professional result.
DetailsYou will be randomly assigned to a research group. As a group, you will:
Formulate hypotheses regarding the impact of your variable (race, gender,
sexual orientation, or religion) on voter impressions of hypothetical
Create biographies for two fictional candidates who differ in terms of the
variable you are studying.

Create survey items designed to elicit respondents opinions regarding the

following key characteristics of the candidates: Leadership skills; integrity;
ability to represent Utah in the U.S. Senate; ability to work constructively with
other Senators;
Create survey items designed to elicit respondents opinions regarding other
key characteristics that your group identifies as potentially important.
Survey 100 people (50 male/50 female) at a location designed to produce a
diverse sample.
Analyze your results.

Individually, you will write research report detailing your Hypotheses, the Research Design
(Biography and Survey Items and Survey Methodology) your group developed, your Survey
Results, and your Conclusions.
Module One
Five Very Powerful Questions Discussion: Read about a recent politically relevant news story (partisan
politics or important domestic or internationalnot localissues) in more than one news source and
apply one or more of the five very powerful questions to it. Put the links to the stories in your
discussion post. How does asking these questions affect your approach to the issue in the news story? Is
there sufficient information in the articles to answer your question(s)? If not, what additional information
would we need to answer the question(s)? Respond to others posts.
Module Two
Reactions to the Constitution Discussion: Read Thomas Jeffersons Letter to James Madison and
George Masons Objections to the Constitution, both of which are in the learning module. What do you
think of Jefferson and Masons reactions to the Constitution? Do you agree or disagree with their various
points? (Not all of their points, but the ones you think are important.) Why/Why not? What parts of their
letters do you not understand? Can we help each other understand what they were saying? (Dont be
afraid to ask What did so and so mean by X?) Is anything Jefferson or Mason wrote relevant to our
times? If so, elaborate. Respond to others posts.
AssignmentFirst ePortfolio Assignment: Get your ePortfolio set up correctly according to the online
tutorials or the free library workshop, if you haven't already done so. For five points, it should have a
Welcome page, a Goals and Outcomes page, a Coursework page, and an Outside the Classroom page. The
Resume page is optional for this course, but note that it may be a requirement for some courses or
programs. For six points, make sure you have a good welcoming statement on your Welcome page. For
seven points, make sure you have an About Me section on your Welcome page--and tell me only what you
feel comfortable relating to your professors about yourself. For eight points, make sure you have goals on
your Goals and Outcomes page. For nine points, put SLCC's learning outcomes (see below) on the Goals
and Outcomes page. For ten points, have something on your Outside the Classroom page regarding a
hobby, volunteer or paid work, extra-curricular activity at SLCC, balancing life and school, sports,
pleasure reading, etc. Put the URL of your ePortfolio's Welcome page in this assignment tab, and also
make sure you enter it into MyPage on the Student tab if you haven't already done so.
Module Three


Political Ads Discussion: Go to the Living Room Candidate site put up by the American Museum of the
Moving Image at Look through the ads on the
Living Room Candidate site (any year, any candidate you wish) and tell us about an ad that you think fits
one of the ad types described in the text. What characteristics lead you to place it in that category? Does it
fit more than one category? What is your reaction to the ad? Do you think it was effective at the time it
was aired? Respond to others posts.
Campaign Finance Discussion: Lets talk about campaign financing in Utah Congressional races. Go to
the Open Secrets website at and do some research on the
financing of the most recent of Utahs three House of Representatives races and the most recent Senate
race. Really dig into this informative site. What do you find interesting about the money sources in these
races? Do the overall money totals for incumbents and challengers fit patterns described in the text? Can
we make inferences about the candidates based on their money sources? Respond to others posts.
Media Discussion: The media is considered the fourth branch of government. Let's take some time and
look at what we know about the media and what we can learn. You will need to find three national news
outlets, one from the newspaper, television and radio. Find a topic that deals with a national issue and
compare the three different new sources to that topic. Read or listen to these outlets and notice how each
report on the topic that you have chosen. Discuss the different views that each source used to relate the
topic. Why did they report the news in the way they did? Did they use all the facts to report the news on
this topic? Without using your own biases, are any of the sources biased in their reporting? Make sure
you respond to other student's posts.
Module Four
Presidential Rhetoric Discussion: Aside from the formal powers vested in the office, Presidents derive
much power from their ability to persuade. What are the characteristics of effective Presidential rhetoric?
What techniques do they (and their speech writers) use to convey authority, to express solidarity with
average Americans, to convince people of the rectitude of their decisions, to appeal to the emotions of
their listeners? We will restrict our discussion to the following examples of Presidential rhetoric: Gerald
Fords remarks upon granting a pardon to Richard Nixon on Sept 8th, 1974; George W. Bushs address to a
joint session of Congress on Sept 20th, 2001; Franklin Roosevelts first fireside chat on March 12th, 1933;
and John F. Kennedys Inaugural Address on Jan 20th, 1961. Listen to the multimedia files of all of these
speeches, which are available at While you listen, take notes
referenced to the questions above. You may also want to track down transcripts of these speeches.
Respond to others posts.
Congress Discussion: It is important to know what happens with the U.S. Senate (Links to an external
site.) and the U.S. House of Representatives (Links to an external site.). Many bills will be discussed and
fought over and dissected each session. You will need to find a bill from the current session of either the
U.S. Senate or the U.S. House dealing with a federal issue. You need to choose an actual bill and not a
resolution. Discuss how the bill affects your life. Why do you feel that this bill was proposed? Who
would it benefit? How much would the bill cost the American taxpayer? Cite the bill number in your
post. Make sure you respond to other student's post .
Judiciary Discussion: Out of the three branches of government, the Judicial Branch seems to be the one
we know the least about. Over the last few years, the Supreme Court has made some monumental
decisions. Go to the U.S. Supreme Courts (Links to an external site.)official website and find current
decisions that they have made. King v. Burwell (Links to an external site.) and Obergefell v. Hodges
(Links to an external site.)are two Supreme Court cases that have been previously decided. Find
information about these cases and see why the Supreme Court ruled the way they did. Discuss the


decision and the effect it has on the nation. What group of people does the opinion effect the most? Who
might it hurt the most? Make sure that you are posting to other student's posts.
Project 2 AssignmentBecoming a Rational Voter
OverviewStudents will move through several mini-exercises designed to help them become
rational voters. They will individually produce a Becoming a Rational Voter newsletter.
PurposeVoting is the most common political behavior in the United States. Theories of
democracyas well as guides to good citizenshipassume a rational electorate. This assignment
will allow students to explore all the facets of what it means to be a rational voter.
DetailsEach day of class, students will move through a directed exercise that involves
gathering, analyzing and evaluating the kinds of political information commonly available in a
political campaign. Well ask questions like these: Where do rational voters find this information?
What does it tell them? Which sources of information are more valuable than others? How do
rational voters sift through politically relevant information in order to come to a voting decision?
Before each class session, students will be given an outside-of-class reading and/or research
activity that they will need to complete in order to effectively participate in class.
At the end of this section of the course, each student will produce a professionally formatted
Becoming a Rational Voter newsletter targeted at general citizens.
Module Five
Healthcare Discussion: Healthcare has been a very decisive topic for many years. President Obama has
pushed for the Affordable Care Act (Links to an external site.) and has done a great job of getting much of
it passed. Others are not as happy. Opponents (Links to an external site.) have tried to repeal the ACA.
Foreign Affairs Discussion: This discussion will allow you to see how the United States deals with
other countries. There are many ways in which the United States interacts with other nations, such as
trade, treaties, financial, military, spying, etc. You will need to find a multinational organization that the
United States deals with. This might be the United Nations, the World Bank, the World Health
Organization, World Trade Organization, International Monetary Fund, International Criminal Court, etc.
What is their mission? How is the United States involved? Does the United States pay an dues or money
of some sort and how much? How might this organization fit into Constitutional authority? Make sure
you post to other student's posts.
Project 3Assignment: Poster Presentations on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties
OverviewAt the end of the semester, you will make a professional-quality poster presentation
on a topic pertaining to Civil Rights or Civil Liberties. An outside audience will be invited to the
presentations, and you will also be presenting to your classmates. However, this is not a nervewracking presentation where you stand in front of a large audience. Instead, you stand by your
poster and talk about it to individuals and small groups who come bywhich is how poster
presentations are usually done at professional conferences.
PurposeThe purpose of this assignment is to give you the opportunity to explore a political
topic in more depth than is traditionally allowed in a course setting. This project reinforces
concepts and information already presented in the course text. Additionally, you will benefit from
having to engage in a common practice in the real world: making a presentation to an interested


audience. The assignment speaks directly to one of Salt Lake Community Colleges primary
learning outcomes for all its studentsnamely that they improve their communication skills.
Since you will be working in a group, you will also be practicing your skills at collaborating to
produce a professional result.
DetailsAfter a lottery in which you will select one of the topics below, you will work this
semester with your team colleagues to create a poster presentation. On [Date], well set up the
posters in class and youll make your presentations to classmates and passersby. Each individual
in your group is required to stand by themselves next to the poster for 15 minutes and explain it to
anyone who comes along. When youre not doing that, you should visit the other posters in our
TopicsThese are the only possible topics, and I would like you to use the title below for your
1. Religious Expression in Public SchoolsWhich forms of religious expression (by students and
teachers) are allowed in public schools and which are not? What are the key controlling Supreme
Court decisions? What issues of religious expression in public schools are currently being
2. Gay Marriage in the American Political SystemMake a poster on the legal status of gay
marriage in the United States, both in the states and at the federal level. Read through important
federal and state court opinions. What are the legal arguments favoring and opposing gay
marriage? What role does federalism play in this issue? This is a descriptive poster, and should
not advocate either side, so please make sure it is fair and balanced as well as informative.
3. The Second Amendment Before the Supreme CourtFundamental Second Amendment cases
in the Supreme Court are surprisingly rare, but weve had two big ones recently. Make a poster
that looks at the evolution of the Courts thinking on the meaning of the Second Amendments
right to bear arms. Look at old cases as well as the recent ones, outlining for your audience the
backgrounds, legal arguments, Court decisions, and ramifications of those decisions. Be able to
link the cases together and tell the story of how the Court has changed on gun rights and what that
means in the real world. What issues has the Court left unresolved? Please remember that I do not
want a poster on pro gun control or anti gun control.
4. The Fourth Amendment in American PoliticsMake a poster that focuses on the highlights of
the evolving legal and political understanding of the Fourth Amendments protection against
unreasonable searches and seizures. What are the most important Supreme Court cases? What are
the boundaries of the Fourth Amendment? In other words, when does it protect a person and
when does it not? How have the wars on Drugs and Terrorism affected our Fourth Amendment
5. The Womens Suffrage MovementUse your poster to trace the highlights of the Womens
Suffrage Movement from its origins in the 18th century to passage of the 19th Amendment. What
arguments and tactics were used by each side? What organizations arrayed against each other on
this issue? Why werent women included in the 15th Amendment? Describe also the politics of
getting the 19th Amendment passed and ratified.
6. The Segregation and Desegregation of Americas Public SchoolsThis poster should cover
the whole gamut of the segregation saga in American public schools. When did segregation
begin? Where was it practiced? What Supreme Court precedents allowed it? What conditions


marked segregated school districts? How and why did de jure segregation come to an end? What
is the de facto status of segregation in public schools now?
Working on the ProjectCreate a division of labor and hold each other accountable. Make sure
everyone is allowed to contribute meaningfully. Achieve consensus on all major decisions. Dont be a
slacker, because your group mates and I will be evaluating your attendance and contributions. Make
sure you have all your materials in class during poster work sessions, as I will assume you are not
fully prepared if you dont. There should be a great deal of talk between group members. Lay out
your poster and handout, have students from other groups (and me!) critique them, and then be
willing to make changes before you commit to your final product.
Posters are most effective when they distill large volumes of information into what you think are the
key elements. You will use the poster to help you make an effective oral presentation. Do not be
tempted to simply cut and paste already published work on your topic, because Im looking for your
work, not someone elses.
All components on the posterwhich typically include headlines, text, quotations, bulleted lists,
photos, and graphsshould be typed or otherwise professionally done.
Module Six
Civil Liberties Discussion #1: For many years, the religion clauses in the Constitution have be discussed
and debated. Prayer has been a very hot topic and will continue to be one in the future. You will go to (Links to an external site.)search for information about how the Supreme Court has ruled on
this topic. Why does prayer warrant a problem in schools? How does prayer constitute a "separation of
church and state"? How would you decide and why? Make sure you respond to other student's posts
Civil Liberties Discussion #2: How many times have you heard that I have the freedom to say or do
what I want? There are always restrictions on speech. Watch this video (Links to an external site.) about
freedom of speech. What do the three justices have to say about speech? Do they agree with one another
on all the issues? What are you thoughts about freedom of speech and how does it affect you? Make sure
you respond to other student's posts.
Seneca Falls Discussion: Read the Seneca Falls Declaration of Sentiments in the course text. Lets have a
discussion about which of those charges leveled against Men are no longer valid, and which of them (if
any) might legitimately be made today. Have women achieved full political, social, and economic
equality with men? You may bring in outside evidence, but lets begin with Seneca Falls and move
forward from there. Respond to others posts.
Final ePortfolio AssignmentCreate a hidden page in your ePortfolio called American Institutions
that links from the American Institutions sub-heading on your Gen Ed page. On this page put a heading
called American Institutions, the course number and name, the semester in which you are taking the
course, a brief description of the assignments you are putting into the ePortfolio, the assignment files for
the Research Project and the Responsible Voter Newsletter, and a photo of your Poster. Also paste your
reflective writing on one of the following subjects. Remember, your reflective writing can be in the first
person, and should be at least 3-4 paragraphs long. Look in the Introductory Module on the Content Site
for a rubric of things Ill be looking for when grading your reflective writing.

Making specific references to your work in this course, tell me what it means to think like a
political scientist and how your thinking has been altered by this course. Have any of your

assumptions or understandings changed? Why? What assignments/activities/readings were

influential in this process? How will you approach politics differently?
Take a look at SLCCs learning outcomes for General Education at the end of this syllabus. Note
that while no specific course helps students move toward achieving all of those outcomes, each
Gen Ed course is supposed to help you make progress in achieving as many of those outcomes as
are relevant to the course. Making specific references to your work in this course, tell me how you
have progressed toward achieving at least three of those outcomes.
What are the strengths and weakness of your work on the three projects in this course? Be honest
with yourself and evaluate your effort, your work processes, your collaboration with others, and
your own thinking throughout the semester. Make specific references to your work. How will this
self-evaluation affect your behavior in future courses?

Finally, you must put a relevant photo on your American Institutions ePortfolio page. Here are some
examples of what your page might look like:


Learning OutcomesAs a result of General Education at Salt Lake Community College, students:
1. Acquire substantive knowledge about human cultures and the physical and natural worlds through study in the
physical, biological, and social sciences, humanities, histories, languages and the arts.
2. Communicate effectively.
A. Develop critical literaciesreading, writing, speaking, listeningthat they can apply in various contexts.
B. Organize and present ideas and information orally and in writing according to standard usage.
C. Understand and use the elements of effective communication in interpersonal, small group, and mass settings.
3. Develop quantitative literacies necessary for their chosen field of study.
A. Approach practical problems by choosing and applying appropriate mathematical techniques.
B. Use and interpret information represented as data, graphs, tables, and schematics in a variety of disciplines.
C. Apply mathematical theory, concepts and methods of inquiry appropriate to program-specific problems.
4. Think Critically and Creatively.
A. Reason effectively using available evidence, and are aware that knowledge is dynamic and builds on new
evidence and alternative perspectives.
B. Demonstrate effective problem solving.
C. Engage in creative thinking, expression, and application.
D. Engage in reflective thinking and expression.
E. Demonstrate higher-order skills such as analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.
F. Make connections across disciplines.
G. Apply scientific methods to the inquiry process.
5. Develop the knowledge and skills to be civically engaged, and/or to work with others in a professional and
constructive manner.
A. Understand the natural, political, historical, social and economic underpinnings of the local, national, and global
communities to which they belong.
B. Develop the awareness of both civil rights and civil responsibilities for individual and collective action in a
C. Engage in service-learning for community building and an enhanced academic experience.
D. Develop the awareness and skills to take leadership roles in classrooms, the broader college, and the community.
E. Engage in principled and vigorous dialogue.
F. Interact competently across cultures.
G. Understand and appreciate human differences.
H. Understand and act on standards of professionalism and civility, including the requirements of the SLCC Student
6. Develop the attitudes and skills for lifelong wellness.
A. Understand the importance of physical activity and its connection to lifelong wellness.
B. Learn how participation in a fitness, sport, or leisure activity results in daily benefits
including stress reduction, endorphin release, and a sense of well-being.
7. Develop computer and/or information literacy.
A. Use contemporary computer hardware and software to effectively complete college-level
B. Gather and analyze information using technology, library resources, and other modalities.
C. Understand and act upon ethical and security principles with respect to computer
technology and to information acquisition and distribution.
D. Distinguish between credible and non-credible sources of information, and use the former
in their work in an appropriately documented fashion.