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Brenham · Social Sciences · Government - GOVT

American Government

  • Fall 2021
  • Section B08 CRN-18967
  • 3 Credits
  • 10/25/2021 to 12/16/2021
  • Modified 08/28/2021

Meeting Times


  • Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, 1:25 PM to 2:40 PM, Academic Building, Room 11

As a blended course, classes will be held in the traditional face-to-face format on Monday and Wednesday each week. Tuesday and Thursday classes will be conducted remotely, with the student observing preassigned video content, taking quizzes and exams, and documenting their activities by completing a log of the material viewed.

While traditional classroom instruction on Monday and Wednesday is committed to a specific time period (1:25-2:40 PM), activities taken by students on Tuesday and Thursday does not involve a dedicated time of day. The student has the flexibility to complete what is assigned at a time that works with their schedule for that day. 

Note: 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:

Online Tuesday and Thursday 8:00 - 9:00 PM. Any Friday by appointment.

Matters can often be handled outside the posted scheduled time for office hours, if needed. To the fullest extent possible, a running watch on course activity is maintained and, therefore, the instructor may be available to respond at various times.

Preset online correspondence in real time is available outside the normal scheduled office hours if the student needs to have a predetermined appointment because of other commitments. Contact the instructor by email 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The primary factors considered relate to the three branches of government -- judicial, executive, legislative -- major historical documents, the events that shaped the nation, and current events.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:  13E
  • ISBN: 978-0-393-53902-8

First Day Inclusive Access


Print upgrade ISBN 978-0-393-87633-8

Additional Items

- Internet access

- 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 material required in the course.

Note: Students have the choice of submitting course work produced with a word processor or handwritten on lined paper; submitted hard copy, or scanned and faxed to the course site. Grading does not discriminate in favor of one over the other.

Course Requirements

Quizzes: 50 Points

Quizzing will take place online during scheduled class days. Students must complete the quiz during a 30-minute window inside that time period to receive credit. There will be a total of 5 quizzes during the course, with each quiz worth 10 points, or 2% of total grade.

The instructor determines specific content, though it will be relevant to the chapters in the section covered for that part of the course.

While the quizzes mentioned are a known quantity, the instructor may provide additional quizzes for purposes of earning extra credit. On rare occasion, for excused absences, make-up quizzes will be allowed under staff supervision.

Tests: 200 points

Four exams totaling at least 50 questions each will be given online during scheduled class days. These will be designated in the class calendar.

Exams consist of both multiple choice and, most often, true-false. Each test is worth a total of 50 points and students, like the quiz, will have a set period of time to complete the exam. Be advised that once started, the clock starts ticking.

Final Exam: 100 Points

There will be a final exam on the last day of class, which is comprised of 100 multiple choice, true-false, and/or word matching questions.

Though primarily focused on the last section of material covered in the course, the exam will have questions carefully chosen from earlier in the course, making it a qualified comprehensive exam.

The final exam is worth 20% of your grade, which is the equivalent of two regular tests. Do not underestimate that value. A final exam can make all the difference between a current course grade average beforehand and the next higher (or lower) grade.

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: Chapter 6, 8, 9, 10, 11
Final Exam: Chapters 7, 16, 17, 18, Comprehensive

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

Exam Notes

Students are expected to read the assigned material. Use of another textbook version/edition other than the one officially approved for the course is at your own risk. There is a vast number of different textbooks and editions floating around the industry. Pick your poison wisely.

A study guide in support of each exam will be distributed in advance to assist in the organization and compiling of notes. The primary medium for all testing content will be centered on the textbook chapters and supporting study guides. The study guides broadly cover chapter content.

Lectures and support videos will be used to provide additional emphasis of specific material. Just enough time and content are allocated in each video to keep your attention.

Except for the final, notes are allowed during a test (Test 1 – 4). No electronic devices may be used during the examination. This is not a training lesson on student ability to increase their smartphone operating speed. It is, however, a developing process of note-taking skills.

Depending on the number of questions, you will always have at least 60 minutes for each regular exam. Exam length, with the exception of the final, usually runs 50-70 questions. Sharing of answers or information with other students is not allowed during the test. Groupthink is reserved for the project portion of the course.

Nobody should leave their room once they start a quiz or exam, except in an emergency and only with the specific permission of the instructor or a designated supervisor. You do not want to waste time once you begin by getting distracted over other matters. One international student last school year, for example, received a call from her immigration lawyer during an exam and got stuck on the phone. They lost all track of time and, as a result, she failed to complete the exam.

Any activities that show cheating took place will result in a non-replaceable grade of 0 (zero) for that test. Stiffer penalties are generously awarded for repeat offenders. I will ensure you are not disappointed. Any proctored exam, particularly the final, are to be done in a formal setting on the day scheduled. More information on that will be provided once the course begins.

Debate Project: 100 Points

Students will be placed with a partner for purposes of holding debates over contemporary issues being challenged in the political arena. A list of topics will be given to the class during the second week, which is based on student lists as their Homework 2 assignment week.

Students will have the freedom to choose which topics they prefer by prioritizing the list. They will be able to choose their position on that topic for purposes of the debate. Everyone's preference will be considered, and everything possible will be done to provide one of their top 4 most favored topics.

Based on the choices made, two-person teams will be formed and scheduled against an opposing team. Each person will write a paper for their debate. It will be submitted to the instructor no later than the day of their debate. Each student in the class will be emailed a copy.

The debate cycle will go for two days. The first day is confined to allowing everyone to read the various position papers. Additionally, the two opposing sides will begin challenging each other in the discussion section of the course. The second day opens up to the class and everyone is allowed to ask a question or comment if they so choose.

Constant monitoring of the discussion section forum is not required during the 2-day debate period. On day 2 the debate presenters are only required to periodically check their threads to see if comments were posted. Respond to those comments when appropriate.

Each student will present their position, defend it, and challenge their opponent. There are no formal winners or losers. You are graded strictly on the quality of your paper's argument, how well you present your position, and the success at questioning the opposition.

Extra Credit Policy

  • While the quizzes mentioned are a known quantity, the instructor may also provide quizzes for the purpose of earning extra credit.
  • Apart from 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. On occasion, depending on the point needs, a short essay may suffice.
  • 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.

Students are encouraged to bring ideas to the instructor’s attention, if they learn of any outside activity that may have relevance to the course. Everyone 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

Less 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 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 2021 General Course Policies.


Students are expected to complete their work and exams in a timely manner. It is the student’s responsibility to inform the instructor concerning any absences.

Considering the current pandemic, liberal attendance policies have been adopted to accommodate those who may become ill or if they have a relative that requires their assistance for the same reason. Please check the Blinn College website for further information on this matter. All students are required to utilize the Blinn College Contact Tracing program daily. Please see the instructor or student services if unfamiliar with the process.

The instructor will work with any student having a difficult time dealing with the medical climate. To some, events seem to have overwhelmed their normal routine to a point that time management is unrealistic. To say the current environment is not normal is an understatement. Please reach out to the instructor for any issue that may arise. Everything possible will be and is being done to assist all students who experience a challenge related to the current environment. 

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.

As you can see by the Schedule section below, there will be firm due dates for each section of course material. However, the instructor reserves the right to change dates based on evolving matters that can arise during the course of the semester.

When you see the due date for a test, that date is also the end of that section. The next section may or may not be available before completion of the current exam.

Any associated material related to a section that is 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.

Late assignments

All homework assignments are to be submitted online. Those deadlines are no different than what is given in a traditional classroom environment. Please do not get sucked into the online procrastination vortex. It becomes a hard habit to break.

Additionally, just like assignments in the real world, there are due dates according to work schedules. You do not have the right to tell your boss the job will get done when you feel like it. Due dates exist for a legitimate reason.

All assignment due dates are based on when posted and announced by the Instructor. You will always be given plenty of time to complete. Homework schedules will be posted in the course calendar at least a week in advance of the due date.

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.

Distance Education Etiquette: Words of Advice

These suggestions come from experience:

Food or drinks while working on the course can be disastrous. Your workstation should be clear of any potential booby-traps and spilled beverages are just one of many.

Do not put yourself in a position where a cellular phone and/or pager can be a distraction. Once you decide to start course work, just as you would in the classroom, turn the phone off before entering cyberspace (which is the equivalent of a traditional classroom).

Laptops and desktops may be used for exam note-taking preparation. However, handwritten notes are more efficient and beneficial to exam taking. Electronic devices are not allowed during exams.

Computers can be a distraction, like smartphones, when you catch yourself using it for extra-curricular activities not directly associated with course subject matter. Good handwriting is becoming a lost art. Become a lost artist, not a tool. Put down the gadget and practice good penmanship.

Be advised, any unauthorized recording, use of recordings, document sharing, or transfer of material to unauthorized sources outside the course environment may be considered a violation of classroom etiquette policy, as well as legal violation of intellectual property rights. Think twice, for example, before dumping course material on websites seeking to capitalize on the information you willingly provide. If that site is profiting from your contribution, then they may be in violation of copyright and patent protection laws.

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


Course calendar and related activities
When Topic Notes

Week One

Meeting Details




Monday, October 25, 2021

First Day of Class

Introduction to Course and Administration




Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Read and Sign Syllabus Document



Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Chapter 1 Lecture: American Political Culture

Syllabus Document Due (HW1)



Thursday, October 28, 2021

Video Content: Section 1

American Culture



Friday, October 29, 2021

Office Hours by Appointment

Video Summary for Week 1 Due



Week Two





Monday, November 01, 2021

Chapter 2 Lecture: The Founding and the Constitution




Tuesday, November 02, 2021

Video Content: Section 1

Declaration of Independence, Quiz 1



Wednesday, November 03, 2021

Chapter 3 Lecture: Federalism



Thursday, November 04, 2021

Video Content: Section 1

Federalism, Quiz 1



Friday, November 05, 2021

Office Hours by Appointment



Week Three





Monday, November 08, 2021

Chapter 12 Lecture: Congress

Video Summary for Week 2 Due




Tuesday, November 09, 2021

Video Content: Section 2, The Legislative Branch, Test 1, Homework 2 Due



Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Chapter 13 Lecture: The Presidency



Thursday, November 11, 2021

Video Content: Section 2

The Executive Branch, Quiz 2



Friday, November 12, 2021

Office Hours by Appointment



Week Four





Monday, November 15, 2021

Chapter 14 Lecture: The Bureaucracy

Video Summary for Week 3 Due




Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Test 2, Video Content: Section 2,

The Supreme Court



Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Chapter 15 Lecture: The Federal Courts



Thursday, November 18, 2021

Video Content: Section 3, Civil Liberties Homework 3 Due



Friday, November 19, 2021

Office Hours by Appointment



Week Five





Monday, November 22, 2021

Chapter 4 and 5 Lecture: Civil Liberties and Civil Rights, Video Summary for Week 4 Due




Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Video Content: Section 3, Civil Rights, Quiz 3, Homework 4 Due



Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Holiday: Campus Closed



Thursday, November 25, 2021

Thanksgiving: Campus Closed



Friday, November 26, 2021

Holiday: Campus Closed



Week Six





Monday, November 29, 2021

Chapter 6 Lecture: Public Opinion, Chapter 8 Lecture: Political Participation and Voting




Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Video Summary for Week 5 Due

Chapter 9 Lecture: Political Parties, Test 3



Wednesday, December 01, 2021

Chapter 10: Campaigns and Elections

Chapter 11 Lecture: Groups and Interests



Thursday, December 02, 2021

Video Content: Section 4

The American Political Process, Quiz 4



Friday, December 03, 2021

Last Day to Drop with a “Q”

Office Hours by Appointment



Week Seven





Monday, December 06, 2021

Chapter 16 Lecture: Economic Policy

Video Summary for Week 6 Due




Tuesday, December 07, 2021

Test 4, Homework 5 Due



Wednesday, December 08, 2021

Chapter 17 Lecture: Social Policy



Thursday, December 09, 2021

Video Content: Section 5, Quiz 5



Friday, December 10, 2021

Office Hours by Appointment



Week Eight





Monday, December 13, 2021

Video Summary for Week 7 Due

Chapter 18: Foreign Policy




Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Last Day of Class

Video Content: Section 5



Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Final Exam



Thursday, December 16, 2021

Office Hours by Appointment



Friday, December 17, 2021

Final Grades Due by 5:00 PM




Total Contact Hours