PLS 135 syllabus spring 2002 by WtA28d


									PLS 135 American National Government
Northern Virginia Community College
Ms. Simmons                                                                Spring 2007

                                  To identify and understand the foundations of American
                                  To understand and practice of the art of politics-- To understand
                                   who gets what and how
                                  To identify and understand the institutions of government
                                  To appreciate the dance of public policy-- To understand how to
                                   create innovative solutions to problems in a democracy
                                  To understand the “limits and possibilities of American
                                   democracy” (Barbour & Wright, p. xi)
                                  To understand how to gain, use and limit power
                                  To create and participate in the Scholarship of Engagement
                                  To increase civic engagement by building skills necessary for
                                   citizens and other residents

Course content                See College Catalog.

Text required                 Ginsberg, Benjamin, Theodore J. Lowi, and Margaret Weir. We the
                              People: An Introduction to American Politics. New York: W.W.
                              Norton. 5th ed. 2005.

Skills needed                 Students need “the same skills that make good citizens: the ability to
                              think critically about and process new information and the ability to be
                              actively engaged in one’s subject” (Barbour & Wright, Keeping the
                              Republic, p. xii). These also include skills of clear writing, oral
                              communication and collaboration.

Student Responsibilities      Learn. Be engaged, curious, funny, persistent, challenging, prepared,
                              and participatory. Attend class. Read on schedule: assignments are
                              to be read by the date of the class meeting listed on the schedule. Meet
                              the requirements of the syllabus and handouts. Apply college level
                              reading, writing and oral communicational skills. Stay in touch with
                              the instructor. Notify the instructor regarding ADA: Americans with
                              Disabilities Act requires that any student who needs an accommodation
                              for a disability must contact the Counseling Office. Get to know other

Instructor Responsibilities   Learn. Be knowledgeable, clear, engaged, curious, funny, persistent,
                              challenging, prepared, participatory, encouraging, and available.

Contact information           Office hours: MW 11:00-12:00 and 1:00-3:00
                                              T 2:00-4:00
                              Office: Colgan 231
                              Phone: 703 257 6688
                                       Note: The instructor responds to e-mails during her office
                              Web page:        http/:
Grading Scale                    A       B       C       D       F               W*
                                 100-90 89-80 79-70 69-60 59-0
                                 *Students must withdraw themselves.

Grading Criteria                 See separate handout.

Steps to Success (10%)           See separate handout.

Learning the text (30%)          Click, click, click: Learning the text requires students to complete on-
                                 line assignments for chapters 2-18. For each chapter, the publisher’s
                                 website includes three assignments: a diagnostic quiz, a “you decide”
                                 exercise and a chapter simulation. Students must select one assignment
                                 for each chapter. Students may complete a diagnostic quiz for one chapter
                                 and a “you decide” exercise for another. Regardless of which assignment
                                 the student selects, the student must e-mail the assignment to the instructor
                                 prior to class on the day that chapter is due to be discussed. Use ONLY
                                 NVCC student e-mail addresses. The assignments for each chapter are
                                 posted at; the due dates are listed in the class

Talking about the text and
other PLS sources
(30%)                            Talk, talk, talk: Students must discuss assigned reading, using political
                                 science terms and ideas presented in the text. They must connect assigned
                                 reading to current issues and identify the sources read, heard or viewed.
                                 Students who complete a “you decide” exercise and a chapter simulation
                                 are expected to make informal presentations at the instructor’s call during

Beyond the text:
 The Scholarship of Engagement

                                 Students must complete A and B. All require collaboration of 4-5
                                 students. Collaborators may change from one assignment to the other.
                                 Written components differ but all require presentations.
                                 For each assignment, the proposal/presentation voted best earns the team
                                 an additional 10 points. All must meet the criteria for grading and rules
                                 for collaboration. (See handouts.) Schedule contains due dates.

                                 A. Civic Engagement on Campus (20%). Civic Engagement in PLS
                                    135 seeks to involve students in creating an atmosphere of Civic
                                    Engagement on the Manassas Campus. Students must complete
                                    one of the following: an idea for a civic engagement effort that the
                                    team creates, subject to the instructor’s approval prior to their
                                    beginning it, or work to revitalization of one of the political clubs
                                    on campus: The Democratic Club, the Republican Club or
                                    Virginia 21.
                                         The team will document its work via one team Portfolio. The
                                    Portfolio will contain 5 sections: (1) a clear statement of its idea or
                                    the identification of the political club it will work to revive. All
                                    team members must sign this; (2) an annotated bibliography of
                                    research sources that will be helpful (3) a plan, complete with steps
                                    and due dates, to make the idea a reality, (4) a list of which student
                                    is responsible for implementing specific steps of the plan, and (5)
                                     an assessment, in the form of a documented analytical essay of the
                                     team’s effort.
                                          The oral presentation is limited to 15 minutes per team. A
                                     period of questions follows.

                                 B. Civic Engagement off Campus: a Case Study by
                                     Video/CD/PowerPoint (20%): The team will create a video/ cd/
                                     PowerPoint focusing on an individual who represents civic
                                     engagement by her/his efforts to affect the policies of the national
                                     government of the United States. The individual must not be an
                                     elected official and must be currently affecting the policies of the
                                     United States or have done so within the last decade. The team must
                                     focus its work on the ideas and actions of the person, not on the
                                     person’s biography.
                                          The team will create one Portfolio that documents its work.
                                     work. The Portfolio will contain 5 sections: (1) identification of
                                     the person and a clear statement explaining the team’s rationale in
                                     selecting the person; (2) an annotated bibliography of research
                                     sources that will be helpful; (3) a list of specific tasks each student
                                     must complete; (4) a draft of the text that will accompany the
                                     video, complete with proper documentation; and (5) the final
                                     documented version of the text that will accompany the video.
                                          The team’s video/cd/Powerpoint will be submitted for all
                                     other students to view outside of the class hour in order for all
                                     student teams to have sufficient time to assess it. All the other
                                     teams assess the other team’s efforts during the exam period. The
                                     assessment must include a determination of accuracy of

Emergency Procedures             Follow the procedures outlined in class and on the charts in the


Note: Read the chapters prior to class and complete the “Learning the Text” assignments prior to
class on the day the chapter is assigned. Other assignments are due at the start of class in
the classroom. Assignments are not accepted late.

                                 Jan 15   Introduction

Part I: Foundations              Jan. 22 Read Preface (pp. xxix-xxiii) and Chap. 1 in text.

                                 Jan. 29 Read Chaps. 2 and 3 in text.
                                         Begin Civic Engagement on Campus: Set up teams.

                                 Feb. 5   Read Chaps. 4 and 5 in text.
                                          Submit 1st Portfolio segment: clear statement of team’s
                                          idea for civic engagement or the campus organization it has
                                          opted to revive, signed by all team members.
                                          Instructor will e-mail teams as to the acceptability of original
Part II: Politics
                                 Feb. 12 Read Chaps. 6 and 7 in text.
                                    Submit 2nd Portfolio segment: annotated bibliography of
                                    sources that will be helpful for the team’s civic engagement.
                                    Add this to the 1st segment in the Portfolio.
                                    Note: The NVCC library website links to web pages that
                                    teach how to create annotated bibliographies.

                           Feb. 19 Holiday

                           Feb. 26 Read Chaps. 8 and 9 in text.
                                   Submit 3rd and 4th Portfolio segment: the team’s plan,
                                   complete with steps and due dates and list of which student is
                                   responsible for implementing which steps of the plan.
                                   Add them to the other segments in the Portfolio.

                           Mar. 5 Read Chaps. 10 and 11 in text.
                                  Begin implementing the Civic Engagement plan.

                           Mar. 12 Spring Break

                           Mar. 19 Confer with instructor regarding the Civic Engagement
                                   on Campus.
                                   Continue implementing the Civic Engagement plan.

Part III: Institutions     Mar. 26 Read Chaps. 12 and 13 in text
                                   Continue implementing the Civic Engagement plan.
                                   Submit 5th Portfolio assignment: assessment, in the form of
                                   a documented analytical essay, of the team’s effort. Add this
                                   to the other Portfolio assignments.

                           Apr 2    Oral Presentations about Civic Engagement on Campus

                           Apr. 9   Read Chaps. 14, 15 in text.
                                    Submit 1st assignment for the Portfolio for Civic Engagement
                                    off Campus. Instructor will e-mail teams as to whether the
                                    persons selected and the rationales are rationale are an

Part IV: Policy chapters 16-18)
                           Apr. 16 Read Chap. 16 in text.
                                   Submit 2nd and 3rd assignments for the Portfolio for Civic
                                   Engagement off Campus. Add them to the Portfolio
                                   assignment 1.

                           Apr. 23 Read Chap. 17 in text.
                                   Continue work on Civic Engagement off Campus.

                           Apr. 30 Read Chap. 18 in text.
                                   Submit 4th Portfolio assignment. Add to others in Portfolio

                           May 7    Submit 5th Portfolio assignment to complete the Portfolio.
                                    Submit the video/cd/Powerpoint.
                                    Schedule time to watch other team’s productions.

                           May 14 3:30-6:15                    EXAM: Video Assessments

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