Participation grade criteria
United States Government
PSC 201, High Point University
Norton 102: Mon., Wed., & Fri: 10 -10:50
Monday, Wednesday: 2:15pm - 3:15pm
Tuesday, Thursday: 9:30am - 10:30am
Friday: 8:30am - 9:30am
and by appointment
Office: Qubein 365
Phone: 336/841-9018 (office); 336/834-0185 (home, before 8:00 p.m. only)
Class Website: http://www.highpoint.edu/~msetzler
UNIVERSITY CATALOG COURSE DESCRIPTION:
An analysis of the institutions and processes of government in the United States and the values on which they are based. Emphasis will be placed on the role of the individual in the political system.
COURSE OVERVIEW AND METHOD OF INSTRUCTION:
This course surveys the constitutional foundations, behavioral dynamics, and central institutions of American political life. We will examine and critique a broad sampling of the questions and theories that political scientists use to explore the nation's political values, behaviors, and choices. In the first unit of the semester, we will analyze the constitutional principles and “rules” that have shaped the practice of democracy in America for over two centuries. We will tackle a number of questions: What influences led our country's founders to adopt our specific constitutional arrangements? How concerned were the architects of American democracy with making it inclusive of everyday citizens? And, most importantly, how have the Constitution and the practice of democracy in America evolved over time? The second unit of the course will critically evaluate citizen representation and political participation: How can everyday citizens make their voices heard by government? Why do so few individuals choose to closely follow and participate in politics? What other institutions, if any, will hold our government accountable if citizens cannot or will not do so? The final weeks of the term will be devoted to analyzing the performance of political institutions: Where have American institutions like the Presidency and the Congress excelled? Where are they most in need of rethinking? How well equipped is the American political system to respond to today's most pressing economic, social, and foreign policy concerns?
One of the main goals of this class is to stimulate student input, questions, and discussion. The course also will provide you with an opportunity to better understand and apply the analytic tools and theories of the political science discipline to reach and articulate your own conclusions about the strengths and limitations of America’s democracy. In most seminars, I will either present new materials or lead discussions of your assigned readings. In both cases, I typically will organize our conversation around a loosely-structured, lecture format that relies on your active, informed class participation. Please make the most of our seminar discussions by consistently coming to class well-read and fully prepared to ask questions, to comment insightfully on the day's reading assignments, and to engage the ideas and perspectives of other students.
COURSE OBJECTIVES (After completing this course, you should be able to do the following):
Understand the main historical, philosophical, and institutional foundations of the American political system.
Apply and analyze the central concepts and theories used by political scientists in the study of American politics.
Identify and critically evaluate a wide range of current policy issues and problems confronting the American political system and society as a whole.
Be able to explain why rates of political participation, policy preferences, and attitudes toward government differ across age, racial, ethnic, gender, and class cleavages in American society.
Be able to effectively articulate orally and in writing your own opinions about the strengths and limits of America’s democratic system.
REQUIRED TEXTS, READINGS, AND MATERIALS:
A textbook. Benjamin Ginsberg, et al. 2007. We the People: An Introduction to American Politics, Essentials Edition, 7th edition. New York: WW Norton.
Numerous academic journal and news magazine articles. High Point's library subscribes electronically to almost all of your non-text reading assignments. While you are free to locate these materials in the library’s on-line databases on your own, most students will probably want to download the readings from the electronic archives I have placed on the course's website (you can access readings by following the electronic links I have embedded in the on-line version of the assignments schedule). To open and read assignments downloaded from the course website, you will need to have a recent version (7.0 or newer for some readings) of free Acrobat Reader program installed on your computer.
***PLEASE NOTE THAT I MADE AND ANNOUNCED CHANGES TO THIS SECTION OF THE ORIGINAL SYLLABUS ON THE SECOND DAY OUR CLASS MET (BEFORE THE NO PENALTY ADD/DROP PERIOD HAD ENDED). These changes were necessitated by the fact that 19 students, almost all of them without seeking instructor permission, added the class after the open-registration period had closed. These changes were necessary to make a syllabus written for 31 students work in a class that ended up enrolling 50 students.
Three sets of unit examinations (tests and at least one paper):
up to 100 percent of the course
grade. After completing each unit (approximately
every five weeks), you will take an examination that has an in-class test as
well as an optional take-home essay component. You must write at least one
of the take-home essays, and may write all three if you would like. Unless
there are alterations to your final course grade, as explained in the
participation section below, your
performance on the first unit's examination will make up 25 percent of your
final course grade; the second will comprise 35
percent; and the last will make up 40 percent.
Each unit grade will be calculated using multiple types of assessment (a mixture of true-false items and short-answer questions, as well as the take home essays for students writing them). The unit grading will use weighting to favor the parts of the exam on which you perform the best. Thus, if your true-false section earns a higher grade than your short answer section for a particular test, then the true-false section will be worth two-thirds of the test's grade and the paper will be worth only one-third. If you write the take-home essay (remember, you need to write on at least one of the three topics and you may write on all three if you wish, weighted grades will again be applied: if you perform better on the paper, it will count for two-thirds of the unit grade; if you do better on the in-class test, it make-up two thirds of your unit grade.
Your in-class tests will include a battery of true false questions and a section of short-answer questions/identification items. You will find it helpful to consult my on-line handout on how these short-answer questions will be graded.
Your take-home essay assignments will each require you to write a paper that is no shorter than 1,500 words, excluding citation and notes (approximately six pages). The topics for these essays are designed to assess your understanding of the unit's numerous readings and any materials reviewed in our seminar meetings. Your papers will be graded on their organization, clarity of writing, content, level of analysis, grammar, citation usage, and formatting. Before submitting any paper in this class, you must consult my on-line handouts on citation requirements and essay grading criteria. These resources are meant to help you to improve your writing and grades.
Papers may not be submitted electronically unless you have made advanced arrangements with me. No late papers will be accepted after the start of your final examination. Otherwise, papers generally will be penalized five percent for each day they are tardy, including the first day if the essay is not submitted prior to the time deadlines listed in the course schedule. In cases where prior arrangements have been made, notifying me that a paper will be coming in late, the late penalty may be reduced or waived at my discretion.
Class participation, non-verbal engagement, and adherence to
the policy on electronic devices: Your final course grade
may be increased by as much as 5 percent or decreased by as much as 10
I will assign separate participation grades at mid-term and at the end of the course using the criteria outlined the participation assessment hand-out on the course website.
If the mid-term and final average for your participation grade is lower than a B, but higher than a D, your participation assessment will not impact your final grade.
If the mid-term and final average for your participation grade meets the participation rubric’s definition of a “B” student, your final course grade will be increased by 3 percent.
If the mid-term and final average for your participation grade meets the participation rubric’s definition of an “A” student, your final course grade will be increased by 5 percent.
If the mid-term and final average for your participation grade meets the participation rubric’s definition of a “D” student, the final course grade will be reduced by 5 percent.
Repeatedly violating the electronics devices policy will lower your final grade by 10 percent. This course is designed in part to help you learn the self-discipline required to remain intellectually engaged for a significant period of time and to take notes effectively by hand in settings where the discussion will infrequently follow a rigid, predetermined path. Both of these talents are broadly required in professional work settings, and you mastery of them is critical to your career prospects. While the inappropriate use of electronic devices is distracting to you and rude to me and other students, even when laptops are used exclusively to take class notes, they virtually eliminate eye contact and the other types of non-verbal communication that allow for meaningful conversations to take-place. As such, multiple violations of course policies concerning the use of electronic devices will result in an penalty being assigned for your course participation grade.
FINAL GRADE CALCULATION:
The university mandates that its instructors assign course grades that accurately reflect each student’s performance. By university policy, the A grade must be reserved for students whose work is "of a markedly superior quality." Bs are reserved for student work that is "excellent" and thus "clearly above average." C is the grade assigned to students doing "satisfactory work" that is consistent with the performance of an "average student." Ds are recorded where a student's work is "unsatisfactory," such that it is evident that the student does not understand or cannot communicate many of the basic elements and materials covered in the class. Fs are recorded when a student's work has not been completed or is so deficient that it does not merit college credit.
I will calculate your course grades using a numerical system:
A: Students with a final course grade that is equal to or greater than 92.5-100 %
Academic dishonesty. I fully support and enforce the university's honor code . As a condition of membership in the university community, every High Point Student is honor-bound to refrain from cheating, collusion, and plagiarism. You are also honor-bound to confront violations of the honor code should you observe them. Students taking or facilitating an inappropriate academic advantage will be reported to the appropriate university authorities and disciplined. The most common form of academic dishonesty is the presentation of another student's or author's ideas as one's own. Before submitting any paper or take-home essay in this class, please carefully review my on-line instructions regarding when and how supporting materials must be acknowledged.
You may not use phones, laptops, or other electronic devices. Unless you are granted an explicit exemption by your instructor (requests will be evaluated on a case by case basis and permission make revoked at any time at your instructor's discretion), you may not take notes with or otherwise use any electronic device other than a voice recorder during our seminar meetings. The penalties for violating this policy are described in the section on the assessment of participation.
Instructor availability outside of the classroom. Please know that I want students to learn as much as they can from this class and to receive good grades. You are strongly encouraged to make an individual appointment with me should you have undue difficulty successfully completing your work. Please feel free to call me at home (834-0185) if an issue is urgent, and I am not available at the office. I am willing to schedule meetings outside of my posted office hours for reasons of privacy or when your schedule requires it. I have young children, so please do not call me at home after 8:00 p.m. or before 8:00 a.m. If you need to leave a message for me outside of class or scheduled office hours, you may also contact me via electronic mail. I usually check to see if I have new messages a few times each day. Meeting with students during office hours is one of the most important and enjoyable aspects of my job. If you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions, my door is almost always open and special appointments will be made as necessary.
Make-up tests, early examinations and missed quizzes. You are required to take exams and quizzes on the days they are given, and make-up work for unscheduled absences will not be allowed except for serious extenuating circumstances that can be verified (e.g., a serious illness). As likely will be the case with your future employers, I am much more flexible about rescheduling work and giving extensions when you provide advance notice and a reasonable justification for needing to move an assignment's due date. If you know you will not be able to make a paper deadline or take a test on the scheduled day for justifiable reasons (e.g. participation in university-sponsored event), you need to make arrangements with me, in person, well before the day the test is given. Please note that I reserve the right to alter the structure of make-up exams from what was given to the rest of the class. For reasons of exam security and out of fairness to all students, I will not give early examinations (including the final), so you need to make your travel plans accordingly.
Late and e-mailed assignments. No essays may be submitted electronically unless you have made advanced arrangements with me. No late papers will be accepted after the start of your final examination. Otherwise, assignments generally will be penalized five percent for each day they are tardy, including the first day if the essay is not submitted prior to the time deadlines listed in the course schedule. In cases where explicit, prior arrangements have been made with me, the late penalty may be reduced or waived at my discretion.
Class attendance policy. Your punctual attendance at every class meeting is expected. Except in cases of serious illness, university-excused absences, or similar circumstances (with acceptable proof), any student who misses more than six classes during the semester may be withdrawn from the course at my discretion. If you are unable to attend class for any reason, you are responsible for obtaining all missed materials. Please be aware that punctual, regular attendance makes up an integral part of your class participation grade.
The use of phones and laptops. Please turn off your phone and remain disconnected from the internet during our seminars. Please turn off your phone and remain disconnected from the internet during our seminars. Your computer should be used exclusively for the instructor-approved activities that will be discussed the first day of class. The inappropriate use of electronic devices is distracting to you, me, and other students, and it will adversely impact your participation grade.
E-Mail accounts and the electronic submission of papers. All students are required to have an active HPU email account that they regularly check. Like most faculty and staff at the university, I assume that any message sent to your university mailbox will be accessed by you within a couple of days; be advised that I may use your HPU account to distribute important course materials or announcements. If you have any questions about appropriate etiquette when professionally communicating with me through e-mail, please consult my on-line handout addressing e-mail usage. For purposes of record keeping, a copy of all papers submitted in this class should also be sent to me by e-mail attachment. If you need help meeting any of these requirements, please see me for assistance during the first week of the semester.
Disability accommodations. If you have a diagnosed disability that necessitates accommodations in the classroom or testing environment please contact Mrs. Irene Ingersoll in the Academic Services Center (Smith Library, fourth floor) to arrange for your accommodation memos. Mrs. Ingersoll also can be reached at (336) 841-9037 or email@example.com. Accommodations are not retroactive and cannot be negotiated directly with instructors, so please make sure to take care of accommodations in the first two weeks of the class. By University policy, students are individually responsible for attaining accommodations to which they are entitled.
Course evaluations. During the last week of classes, you will be asked by the university's office of assessment to fill out an anonymous, on-line survey on the quality of this class and its instruction. Please take the time to complete the survey for this course and all of your classes. Your feedback not only is a critical component of the university's evaluation of instructors, but also it provides information that helps instructors to improve their classes and teaching. As noted above, providing evidence that you completed your course evaluation for this class will modestly improve your participation grade for the second half of the class.
READING ASSIGNMENTS AND TENTATIVE SCHEDULE OF ACTIVITIES:
Please follow this link for all updates that have been made to assignments and readings.