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Bryan · Social Sciences · Government - GOVT

American Government

  • Summer I 2018
  • Section 315 CRN-30563
  • 3 Credits
  • 06/04/2018 to 07/02/2018
  • Modified 06/02/2018

Meeting Times


  • Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, 10:05 AM to 12:00 PM, Building A, Room 112

The syllabus is considered a work in progress and subject to change/modification when a need arises. Additionally, factors outside the direct control of Blinn College and the instructor may necessitate schedule adjustments as required to meet course objectives.

Contact Information

Instructor: Dr. Wade Andrew Shol

Office Hours: Monday - Friday, 9:30 - 10:00AM

Matters can often be handled in the classroom immediately before or after class time and, if necessary, instructor and student can move to a more secure location.

Appointments are available outside the normal scheduled time for office hours. Please see the instructor to arrange a time that would be more beneficial to your schedule.


Government 2305 is a study of the organization, functions, and administration of the several branches and agencies of the national government, including a study of the federal constitution. The primary factors considered relate to the three branches of government -- judicial, executive, legislative -- major historical documents, the events that shaped the nation, and current events. Emphasis will be placed on the interaction of these subsystems. 48 contact hours. Credit: Three semester hours.


Student must be college reading ready according to Texas Success Initiatives Standards (TSI). Please see the Catalog section under Texas Success Initiative.

Core Curriculum Statement

Through the Texas Core Curriculum, students will gain a foundation of knowledge in 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. For details relating to this core course, please see:


Explain the origin and development of constitutional democracy in the United States.

Demonstrate knowledge of the federal system.

Describe separation of powers and checks and balances in both theory and practice.

Demonstrate knowledge of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of the federal government.

Evaluate the role of public opinion, interest groups, and political parties in the political system.

Analyze the election process.

Describe the rights and responsibilities of citizens.

Analyze issues and policies in U.S. politics.




  • EDITION:   11E
  • ISBN:   9780393622850


Additional Items

Internet access is essential.

Test support materials as determined by instructor.

Miscellaneous reading materials and office supplies necessary for the successful completion of course assignments.

Instructor will furnish students with the actual video or a website location for any documentary required in the course.

Note: Students have the choice of submitting course work produced with a word processor or handwritten on lined paper. Grading does not discriminate in favor of one over the other.

Course Requirements

Quizzes: 50 points

Quizzing will be done in class. You must be in class on the day the quiz is given to receive any credit. There will be a total of 5 quizzes (10% total of course grade) during the course, with each one worth up to 10 points. (Individual quizzes are worth 2% of total course grade.) Each quiz is posted in the course schedule. Each quiz will be administered at the beginning of the week. The instructor will determine the specific content, though it will be relevant to the section being covered the week before. On rare occasion, for excused absences, make-up quizzes will be allowed under the supervision of college staff.

Tests: 50 points each, 100 point Final

There will be four (4) standard examinations (10% of grade for each exam) covering specific sections of subject matter. Each of these exams will be worth a maximum of 50 points. The exams will be a combination of multiple choice and true-false questions taken from the textbook and lecture. Exam 5 will cover the final three chapters. This test will also serve as a final comprehensive exam and include material discussed earlier in the course. The Final Exam is worth 100 points (20% of grade).

You are expected to read the assigned material, and may only "skip" the parts I tell you to skip. Use of another version/edition of the textbook other than the approved version is done at your own risk!

All tests will be done in class on the specified days. A categorization of the chapters each test covers is as follows:

  • Test 1: Chapters 1, 2, 3
  • Test 2: Chapters 12, 13, 14
  • Test 3: Chapters 15, 4, 5
  • Test 4: Chapters 6, 8, 9, 11, 10, 7
  • Final: Chapters 16, 17, 18, comprehensive

The chapters covered on each test are also available on the calendar section provided at the end of this syllabus.

The following applies to the classroom environment during all testing:

  • No books or notes are allowed during the tests.
  • No electronic devices may be used during the tests.
  • No sharing of answers or information with other students is allowed during the tests.
  • Nobody shall leave the room except in an emergency and only with the specific permission of the instructor.
  • If granted permission to leave the room during an exam, the student must turnover to the instructor any electronic device that may be in their possession.
  • All tests will be done in class on the specified days.
  • Note: The activities identified above, if violations of the testing requirements are carried out and discovered by the instructor, shall be considered cheating and result in a non-replaceable grade of 0 (zero) for the test. Stiffer penalties are in order for any repeat incident. No exceptions.

Homework: 50 points

There will be a total of five homework assignments, approximately every three weeks. Each homework assignment is worth up to 10 points (2% of total course grade). All five assignments completed by each student will count for this category (10% of total grade).

Depending on the assignment, you will have at least a week to complete the task. Details of what the topic is will be provided the week it is scheduled. All students are expected to complete the assignment in the time allowed.

It is possible that a portion or all of a particular homework assignment could be done in class as a group project. The basic idea (like all homework) is to give you an opportunity to practice and apply what you are expected to be learning. Sometimes this may require a group laboratory environment.

While spelling and grammatical errors may not be strictly enforced, it will lower your grade if there are several spelling errors. Points will be deducted from written work where the errors are so profound that they take away the instructor’s ability to comprehend the point being made.

Once you take the test for a section, you will not be allowed to do any more work in that section. So be sure you have done your homework and completed all other available assignments before the section test.

Project: 100 points

A polling project will be conducted by members of the class. Students will be broken into groups of two people for purposes of creating the poll.

The different groups will be identified at the start of the third week of class. To the fullest extent possible, students will be given an opportunity to choose their partner and the specific subject they wish to create their poll on.

A detailed assignment sheet explaining the requirements will be distributed to the class at the time each group is identified. Students will be given ample time to complete the project. Specific due dates will be given at the time the project is assigned.

Extra Credit Policy

  • While the quizzes mentioned are a known quantity, the instructor may also provide quizzes for the purpose of earning extra credit.
  • With the exception of the final exam, a student that may be discouraged with their course average and exam grades at any time during the semester is welcome to speak with the instructor about the possibility of extra credit work. This is most likely to be in the form of a scholarly paper that would be averaged with the relevant exam grade.
  • Additionally, the instructor may elect to include an extra credit essay with each exam. It will be at the student’s discretion if they choose to take advantage of the opportunity.
  • Numerous opportunities may arise throughout the course that allow students an opportunity to earn extra credit outside the class. The instructor will inform students when they become available. Each individual is personally responsible for taking advantage of these activities.



Grades will be calculated as follows: Points earned are totaled on all the assignments and compared to the table below- there is a maximum of 500 points (excluding bonuses):

450 points and over- Grade of 'A' and four (4) grade points

400-449 points- Grade of 'B' and three (3) grade points

350-399 points- Grade of 'C' and two (2) grade points

300-349 points- Grade of 'D' and one (1) grade point

Fewer than 299 points- Grade of 'F' and zero (0) grade points




While there is no “individual” grade on any one assignment for purposes of calculating the final tally, a percentage score will be provided on each graded exam, homework assignment, quiz, and project. This is for the specific purpose of providing the student a general idea on how they ranked on the common grading scale. Points are earned throughout the course and will be compared to the table above at the end of the term to determine the student’s grade. Do keep in mind that, while grades are rounded up at the .5 mark or greater, anything less remains in the lower grade category. For example, an 89.5% would be the equivalent of an ‘A’ after rounding up to a 90%.

If there are extenuating, documented circumstances, a grade of "I" may be assigned, following current Blinn policies. If a student withdraws (drops) from class a grade of "Q", "QP", or "QF" will be given, depending on the date of the student's withdrawal and their current grade.

Note: There may be occasions when points will be added to a student's grade to reward actions above expectations. Points will never be taken away.

Blinn College Policies

All policies, guidelines, and procedures in the Blinn College CatalogBlinn College Board Policies, and the Blinn College Administrative Procedures Manual are applicable to this course.

Specific information on civility, attendance, add/drop, scholastic integrity, students with disabilities, final grade appeal, alternative retailers, campus carry and proctoring arrangements and cost.

Notice of any action taken under these protocol and procedures, by Blinn College or its employees, may be delivered by hand, through the U.S. Postal Service, or electronically to the student’s BlinnBuc e-mail account. Notice shall be deemed received upon actual receipt, on deposit in the U.S. Mail, or upon entering the information processing system used by Blinn College for BlinnBuc e-mail accounts, whichever first occurs.

Course Policies


Students are expected to attend class.  It is the student’s responsibility to see the instructor concerning absences.  Students will NOT be dropped from the course by the instructor.  If a student chooses to drop the course, it is the student’s responsibility to do so at the Office of Admissions and Records.  Failure to do so will result in a grade of “F” for the course.

You must be present in class the day of the scheduled classroom day.  You must answer roll call or sign in on the sign-in sheet to be counted as present. You will be considered tardy if you sign in after class is scheduled to begin, unless arrangements have been previously made with the instructor. Depending on consistency, you may lose grade points for being tardy.

It is the student’s responsibility to inform the instructor of any known absence in advance. If an unexpected absence does occur, it is expected of the student to contact the instructor at the earliest possible time to inform them of their situation.

Students are not allowed to leave the class without first informing the instructor. An early departure, without instructor approval, will be treated in the same manner as a tardy.

Course Work

The instructor will provide specific information on how homework assignments are to be completed and the deadline for their completion. It is the student’s responsibility to keep themselves mindful of all approaching dates related to class events.

Late assignments:  Assignments in class, just like assignments in the real world, are due according to the schedule.  All assignments are due as posted and announced by the Instructor in class. Consequences for substandard performance are experienced in the real world, and will be enforced in the classroom. Therefore, if the instructor accepts late work, it will receive a grade of no higher than B. Please do not belabor this point. It is fair to assume work done well and in a timely manner should get a higher grade than work that does not meet the deadline.

Classroom Etiquette  

No food or drinks in the classroom without the express authorization of the instructor. Students are expected to clean-up after themselves at the end of each class.

Cellular phones and pagers must be turned off before entering the classroom.

Laptops are allowed for purposes of taking notes only. They are not to be used for extra-curricular activities not directly associated with course subject matter and permitted by the instructor.

Devices used for the purpose of recording lectures will be authorized if arrangements are made with the instructor in advance. Any unauthorized recording may be considered a violation of classroom etiquette policy as well as intellectual property rights.

Blinn College does not tolerate cheating, plagiarism or collusion.  Procedures for dealing with these acts are outlined in the Scholastic Dishonesty Policy.

As you can see by the Schedule section below, there will be firm due dates for each section of course material. So when you see the due date for a test, that date is also the end of that section. The next section will become available following the exam, not before. Any material not completed by the test date will be assigned a grade of 0 (zero). Once a section has expired, further work associated with that section will not be allowed unless specifically authorized by the instructor. Be prepared to take notes on lectures. Lectures are key to successful grades on the exams and course completion.

Drop Date

The last day to drop this class with a "Q" is June 22.


Course calendar and related activities
When Topic Notes

Week One

Meeting Details



Monday, June 04, 2018

Introduction to the Course

Chapter 1 Lecture: American Political Culture



Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Chapter 2 Lecture: The Founding and the Constitution, Homework 1 – 2 Issued


Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Chapter 3 Lecture: Federalism, Quiz #1


Thursday, June 07, 2018

Chapter 12 Lecture: Congress


Friday, June 08, 2018

Chapter 12 Lecture: Congress


Week Two




Monday, June 11, 2018

Chapter 13 Lecture: The Presidency, Exam #1




Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Chapter 13 Lecture: The Presidency

Chapter 14 Lecture: Bureaucracy in a Democracy


Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Chapter 14 Lecture: Bureaucracy in a Democracy

Quiz #2


Thursday, June 14, 2018

Chapter 15 Lecture: The Federal Courts

Homework 3-5 Issued


Friday, June 15, 2018

Chapter 4 Lecture: Civil Liberties

Exam #2


Week Three




Monday, June 18, 2018

Chapter 5 Lecture: Civil Rights, Quiz #3





Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Chapter 6 Lecture: Public Opinion

Chapter 8 Lecture: Political Participation and Voting


Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Chapter 8 Lecture: Political Participation and Voting

Exam #3


Thursday, June 21, 2018

Chapter 9 Lecture: Political Parties

Chapter 10 Lecture: Campaigns and Elections


Friday, June 22, 2018

Chapter 10 Lecture: Campaigns and Elections

Quiz #4


Week Four




Monday, June 25, 2018

Chapter 11 Lecture: Groups and Interests

Chapter 7 Lecture: News Media




Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Chapter 16 Lecture: Government and the Economy

Exam #4


Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Chapter 17 Lecture: Social Policy


Thursday, June 28, 2018

Chapter 18 Lecture: Foreign and Defense Policy

Quiz #5


Friday, June 29, 2018

Chapter 18 Lecture: Foreign and Defense Policy


Week Five




MONDAY, JULY 02, 2018





Total Contact Hours