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Distance Education · Social Sciences · Government - GOVT

American Government

  • Fall 2020
  • Section N13 CRN-20637
  • 3 Credits
  • 08/24/2020 to 12/10/2020
  • Modified 08/19/2020

Meeting Times

This is an online distance education course.  It is open throughout the semester but there are assigned due dates for submitting assignments and tests.  All contact between student and professor is to be done through D2L email or by telephone, if on campus.

Office Hours: for added flexibility, please email me.





Contact Information

Professor Brian Cravens

Please email me within D2L/Ecampus so I can keep everyone's emails together. If there is an issue with D2L/Ecampus, feel free to email at: [email protected]

Also, please expect up to a 24 hour response on emails during the week and up to 48 hours during the weekend.


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The primary factors considered relate to the three branches of government -- judicial, executive, legislative -- major historical documents, the events that shaped the nation, and current events.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.



This is what the cover looks like. If you purchase it through Blinn, you will likely see the name "Blinn College" along the side of the front cover. Make certain that you purchase the "Full" edition.



  • EDITION:  12E - Full
  • ISBN: 978-0393679571 


Course Requirements

The following is an outline of the material covered in this course:


Section I: American Political Culture, US Constitution, Federalism, and Civil Liberties and Civil Rights

Section II: Public Opinion, the Media, Political Participation and Voting, Political Parties, Campaigns and Elections, and Interest Groups

Section III: The Three Branches of Government – Legislative, Executive, and Judicial

Section IV: Public Policy – Social, Economic, and Foreign


Evaluation of each student’s accomplishments during this Government 2305 online class will consist of fifteen quizzes over assigned chapters, five discussion essays, three major exams, and one comprehensive final exam. All assignments are completed online, including the exams. In addition, there are time periods for each section and all assignments within that section. Once the time is up, you cannot complete the assignment and will receive a zero for any missed assignments. Remember that availability for all quizzes, exams, and the discussions end at my specified time on the day of the deadline (6 AM) and that is according to D2L/Ecampus server’s clock, not yours!


You are responsible for the following during each week (see calendar at the end of the syllabus for dates):

  • Log into the class daily to check on updated course announcements.
  • Read the weekly assigned chapter(s) and take notes to help you understand the material
  • Complete the chapter quizzes over the assigned chapters (anytime while the section is open)
  • Complete the exam (you will have access to the exam during the last week of the section)


Assessments and Assignments:


Quizzes: Each week you will have one to two quizzes. These are open book and open note quizzes that last 25 minutes for 20 questions and must be finished by the end of the week that they are available. If you do not submit within the allotted 25 minutes (the quiz does not submit automatically), a zero will be issued as a grade for that particular quiz. You may not begin a quiz and then return to it later. The quizzes are designed to give you plenty of time to answer the questions if you have studied. If you have started a quiz ‘cold’ and have not studied for it, you will find that the quizzes will be difficult. Many of the questions test critical thinking skills and may not have a precise answer you can locate in the text. Therefore learn the material and you’ll have an easier time with the quizzes and exams.  The time allotted does not give you much leeway in looking up EVERY question. Additionally, always make certain you save your answers to the quiz when completing it so nothing is lost. This is your responsibility! Quizzes are to be completed by you and you alone – any indication that you have cheated with result in a failing grade for the class. Quizzes are due at specific times and dates – check the syllabus and course calendar. NO late submissions will be allowed. 


Exams: Students will have 100 minutes to complete the exam of 100 multiple-choice and True/False questions. The two-hour comprehensive final exam will also have 100 multiple-choice questions. If you do not submit within the allotted time, a zero will be issued as a grade for that particular exam. You may not begin an exam and then return to it later. You may use printed notes only. Feel free to print out the PPT slides and/or chapter outlines to write on to use for the exams. No textbook or electronic notes may be used. Please keep in mind you will not have time to look up every question. And just like the quizzes, these exams are to be completed by you and no one else. Any indication of collaboration and you will receive a failing grade for the class. This is a zero sum issue. There are specific due dates and times for each exam. See syllabus and course calendar for details. NO late submissions will be allowed.  

Important: All exams (and the Syllabus Quiz) are proctored via Honorlock. Please see "Proctoring Requirement" below for more information.


Discussion Essays: This semester students will formally write and respond to five discussion essay questions. Discussion topics may be found within our Ecampus page under the "Discussion Essays" tab. In addition to evaluating your position and writing about it, you will also offer a cordial reply to another student's original post.  Students will only be able to view another student's discussion answer after they have first submitted their own answer. This will eliminate any copying. This also means that if you skip or miss the original answer deadline, you cannot submit a reply.  Prepare to do both. This is a great way to earn points and is considered as "participation" in the course. There are specific discussion guidelines:


  • 400 words minimum of analysis for the original answer and 150 words for the reply. Failure to meet the minimum word count requirement results in no credit for that submission. Word count does not include large quotes, headings, or a works cited page. Word count refers to analysis only. No word padding, please.
  • Each original answer MUST include one source from a relevant academic or journalistic website that is incorporated into your essay. I am going to be very strict about this - avoid overtly political websites that only sling mud and inaccuracy. Dictionaries, encyclopedias, blogs, and Wikipedia are not allowed. This includes database dictionaries and encyclopedias. It also includes juvenile sources used on the K-12 level. If a relevant website isn't used or properly cited, a zero will be issued for that assignment - this is the second minimum requirement.  Feel free to use MLA format when citing. Sources, including links must appear at the end of the discussion essay submission. Not listing sources and/or incorporating them into your essay is the same as not using sources and will result in a zero for that submission. In the end, I determine what is and is not relevant.
  • Replies should focus on a contextual, compelling, and meaningful dialogue with a peer only. Provide specific examples rather than glossing over the issue. Do not comment on grammar and spelling - that is my job. Dual Credit students must reply to someone who is not in their dual credit class.
  • Check spelling and grammar before submitting. One point will be deducted for every error made.
  • Format: Times New Roman, 12 font, using multiple paragraphs. No monolithic block paragraphs.
  • What do I look for when grading? Apart from grammar and spelling, I look for logical consistency, how well the student incorporated supportive timely and relevant examples, supporting evidence (data), and how well the topic was critically analyzed (depth). The only way to earn an “A” for the discussions is for the student to offer a well-structured and insightful analysis free from writing flaws. This should be the goal of every written assignment.
  • Be polite. Follow Blinn College Civility guidelines. Often in the online world, many think that they are anonymous and protected by a computer screen that allows them to use rude language and ridicule the other side. This is not good political dialogue.  In the end, I determine what is and is not polite. 
  • Deadlines are specific - don't lose track of them. See D2L/Ecampus calendar for details.
  • Discussion answers and replies are due on the deadline by 6 AM.
  • No late submissions are allowed. Deadlines are precise. Even one second late nulls your answer. Get your work in early and therefore on time!
  • Your original answer is worth up to 30 points and your reply is worth up to 10 points for a possible maximum of 40 points per discussion question.
  • Unless otherwise noted in the course News Feed, discussions will be graded within five days after the deadline.



Grading for the Government 2305 course is based on a point system worth 1000 points. You must earn the requisite number of points to earn a particular letter grade for the semester. It does not matter if you are one point away from a higher letter grade - earn the necessary points for that letter grade. I do not round up to a higher letter grade, so please do not ask. My answer will be "no." The requirements for the course are as follows. Dates and deadlines are listed on the calendar.


Fifteen chapter quizzes (20 points each)                                          300 points

Five discussion posts (40 points each)                                             200 points 

Three major exams (100 points each)                                              300 points

Comprehensive Final Exam (200 points)                                          200 points


                                                                                                              1000 points





900-1000                    A

800-899                      B

700-799                      C

600-699                      D

599 or less                  F

Blinn College Policies

All policies, guidelines, and procedures in the Blinn College CatalogBlinn College Board Policies, and the Blinn College Administrative Regulations 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 Blinn Buc 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 Blinn Buc e-mail accounts, whichever first occurs.

Information about the changes Blinn has made to the Fall semester: Back with Blinn.

Course Policies

Please read: Fall 2020 General Course Policies


Computer Access

Since this is an online course, you must have reliable access to both a computer and to the Internet. This is your responsibility. Be aware that online courses do not work well, if at all, with tablets and smartphones. To make things easier, do your work on either a laptop or a desktop computer. Also be aware of the challenges of different browsers; always have a backup browser.

Please take potential technical issues into account and submit your assignments in advance of the deadline rather than the last few hours before the deadline. Deadlines are strict. 

Given the great deal of time that is given to complete the various assignments, using the excuse of computer problems is not valid and will not be accepted. If you are having technical problems logging on, saving answers, etc., please contact the Distance Learning Office (979-209-7298 or and click on ‘technical assistance’ or ‘student assistance’) as soon as the problem occurs. 


Proctoring Requirement

In order to maintain high academic standards, the following assessments are required to be proctored:  


Assessment to be proctored

Type of Proctoring

Syllabus Quiz


All Exams



Information about proctoring options:

  • Honorlock is a service included in your Internet service fee. Students must have a high-speed reliable internet connection, webcam, and a microphone (if the webcam does not have one.) See your course orientation in eCampus on how to use Honorlock. 
  • A step-by-step guide on navigating Honorlock proctoring can be found in our online class under "Proctoring Requirement."
  • Failure to proctor the required assignments or engaging in cheating of any kind, results in an automatic zero for the assignment, regardless of grade earned.
  • No external devices are allowed: cell phones, headphones, smart watches, friends whispering answers, etc. This list is not exclusive and may be expanded upon the discretion of the professor.



Make-up Policy

There are no make-ups for anything in the course. Please do not ask to submit missed assignments - you are responsible for submitting assignments on time. If properly paced, there is plenty of time to complete all assignments. If there is a scheduling conflict with the final date for each section, complete the assignment early!


Extra Credit

Other than the first week Syllabus quiz, there is no official extra credit. There is no curve.  Do not ask for additional points and/or extra credit. Please do not ask to resubmit assignments that earned poor scores. Every point counts. Make certain that you earn yours!


E-mail through D2L/Ecampus

Please check your email regularly through the in-class D2L/Ecampus email system. Any questions or concerns need to be sent to me through our course D2L/Ecampus email system.  Please do not email me at my regular Blinn address. By emailing me within our course, I’ll be able to respond more quickly! When emailing me:

  • Use proper grammar and spelling. Do not write like you are texting a friend.
  • Use a proper salutation.
  • In the subject line, include the class and section.
  • When beginning an email, please introduce yourself. I have lots of students, so remind me of who you are.
  • Always close the loop when I reply to your email: let me know you've received it.



Classroom Scholastic Integrity

 Any student caught engaging in scholastic dishonesty (which includes cheating on exams and quizzes, providing peers with exam and quiz questions, printing out copies of the quizzes and exams, plagiarism, recycled papers, or collusion) will receive an automatic "F" for the semester. This black mark will stay with you for your entire academic career. Do not let this happen to you!


Classroom Attendance Policy

 Yes, there is an attendance policy for this course. You are responsible for completing assignments during the designated time period in this class. At the end of the designated time period, all assignments will be locked. Remember, all your grades are based on “participation” (i.e. doing the assignments) so attendance in this virtual classroom is required! Also, students who get in a habit of logging on regularly and completing the assignments in a timely manner are the ones who will do well in the class! I will monitor attendance in this virtual classroom by reviewing assignments completed each week. 

Given that students have almost an entire week to complete various assignments, it will be extremely rare for a student to qualify for any limited excused absences exceptions. If a deadline conflicts with one of these exceptions, the student is then obligated to complete the assignment(s) before the due date.

So, after each week, if you missed a quiz or exam, you will be reported as missing one week's worth of class. Do your work and there will not be any problems. 

Any ONE assignment missed = ONE week of absences.  Any TWO or more assignments missed = TWO weeks of absences and you are dropped from class.


Important: Last Day to Drop with a Q is November 30.


I reserve the right to make adjustments to the syllabus if needed. Should this occur, students will be notified in the News Feed of our Ecampus course.




(All assignments due at 6 AM on due date)


SECTION I: August 24 - September 28 (6 AM) – 15 Contact Hours

Contact hours

Week 1 (August 24-31): Quiz 1: American Political Culture (pgs. 2-39)


Week 2 (August 31 - September 7): Quiz 2: The Founding and the Constitution (pgs.  40-75) AND Discussion 1 due on September 7.


Week 3 (September 7-14): Quiz 3: Federalism (pgs. 75-113) AND Discussion 2 due on September 14.


Week 4 (September 14-21): Quiz 4: Civil Liberties AND Civil Rights (pgs. 114-203)


Week 5 (September 21-28): Exam I


SECTION II: September 28 - October 19 (6 AM) – 9 Contact Hours


Week 6 (September 28 - October 5 ): Quiz 5: Public Opinion (pgs. 204-253) AND Quiz 6: The Media & Groups and Interests (pgs. 254-293 and 428-465)


Week 7 (October 5-12): Quiz 7: Political Participation and Voting (pgs. 294-333) AND Quiz 8: Political Parties (pgs. 334-377) AND Discussion 3 by October 12.




Week 8: (October 12-19): Quiz 9: Campaigns and Elections (pgs. 378-427)            AND Exam II


SECTION III: October 19 - November 16 (6 AM) – 12 Contact Hours


Week 9 (October 19-26): Quiz 10: Congress (pgs. 466-511)


Week 10 (October 26 - November 2): Quiz 11: The Presidency & Bureaucracy in a Democracy (pgs. 512-589) AND Discussion 4 due by November 2


Week 11 (November 2-9): Quiz 12: The Federal Courts (pgs. 590-629)


Week 12 (November 9-16): Exam III  


SECTION IV: November 16 - December 8 (6 AM) – 12 Contact Hours


Week 13 (November 16-23): Quiz 13: Government and the Economy (pgs. 630-673)  AND Discussion 5 due by November 23.


Week 14 (November 23-30): Quiz 14: Social Policy (pgs. 674-713)


Week 15 (November 30 - December 7): Quiz 15: Foreign Policy and Democracy (pgs. 714-751)



Week 16 (December 7-8): Comprehensive Final Exam



Total Contact Hours


NOTE: Online classes are aligned with their counterpart classes offered in all other modalities – i.e. F2F. They include the same objectives and learning outcomes. The Master Course Syllabus aligns course objectives and learning outcomes. Moreover, these are reviewed and verified through the division (using the Division Online/Blended Course Pre-Review Form) and through the Distance Learning Course Review Team procedures. Furthermore they conform to the guidelines established by Texas Administrative Code Title 19, Part 1, Chapter 4, Subchapter A, Rule 4.6 (e).