American Federal Government – POL 1113 (Spring 2013)

Sections: POLSC-1113-003(088833)



Professor:       Dr. Markus Smith

Office:             1H13(F) – Social Science Center (SSC) & Division Office (1H4)

Phone:             682-1611 Ext. 7730

E-Mail:   – NOTE THE TWO SS. You must use your OCCC emails only.

Office Hours:  M: 7:00-9 am; W: 7:00-9 am & 3:30-5:30 pm; F: 7:00-9 am; and TR: 1-2 (Online Students Only)


Current Positions:    










Research: I have conducted extensive research in the area of capital punishment, as well as contributing to the research of incarcerated women and the affects it has on their children. This research has been requested and passed on to the Oklahoma State Legislature to assist them in developing better and innovative programs and policies.


Publications: Areas in capital punishment, public policy, and political behavior.


Panel Discussions: I have chaired several panel discussions on topics such as Separation of Church and State, Abortion, Affirmative Action, Same Sex Marriage, Illegal Immigration, Death Penalty, Patriot Act, etc.


Committees: Search and Hiring; Employee and Student Grievance; and Grade Appeal to name a few.


Spare Time: I have taught, trained and coached U.S. Junior, Senior, and Collegiate National team members in Taekwondo as an Instructor (3rd Degree Black Belt) at Poos Taekwondo in Edmond for the past 15 years, and have also served as a member of the United States Taekwondo Union Tournament Committee. I also have twelve years of Restaurant General Management and Retail Marketing Management experience. To learn more about me and my courses, please visit my webpage ( or search me on Facebook: Dr. Markus Smith.

Course Description:

This course is a study of the principles, structure, processes, and functions of the United States federal government – from its founding events to its unique constitution, from the great social movements of the nineteenth century to the challenges of the twenty-first century. A primary objective of this course is to stimulate critical thinking about the impact of government and politics on our society and on individual citizens, and how citizens and organizations influence their government.


Teaching Methods/Learning Experiences:

Students will attend lectures which will orient them to basic concepts and information concerning the foundations and processes of American national government. Students are responsible, through self-study, readings, and writing assignments to learn relevant concepts and applications related to the study of American government. This class is designed for active student participation. Classroom questions and discussion are strongly encouraged. Students are responsible for retaining backup copies of all homework assignments turned in and handed back.



Geer et al. (2012). Gateways to Democracy (The Essentials)/w Aplia. Cengage Learning. [Required]

·         Students are required to purchase the textbook that is bundled with Aplia, which will be used as a grading component for the course. The most cost-efficient means to purchase this bundle is through the college’s bookstore. Otherwise, you will end up paying more online, friend, etc. In addition, there will be specific instructions posted in Moodle in the “Aplia Folder” in regards to setting up your Aplia accounts. Your Course Key is: 8DPM-UEZL-WKY8.   


Scott, Gregory M. & Garrison, Stephen M. 2008. The Political Science Student Writer’s Manual (6th Ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall. [Required]



Attending class to discuss the material covered is its own reward. Missing class is its own penalty. Research has shown that excessive absences leads to poor performance and grades in the course. Note: my lectures consist of information directly from the book, and from outside sources. So missing class and simply reading the chapter I covered in the lecture for that day will not be enough to get you fully caught up. Class attendance is an important part of succeeding in this class and is expected of all students. Class time provides an opportunity for you to ask questions, clarify issues, and deepen your understanding of the concepts covered in the text. If you are absent, you are responsible for getting any notes, assignments, and schedule changes made on that day. If you come in late, you are responsible for seeing that the attendance record is correct.



To encourage faithful and current reading of the text, quizzes will be administered through Aplia.   



Each student will select one article from a credible news source (e.g. The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, etc.) or scholarly journal (e.g. American Political Science Review, Journal of Politics, etc) in which to present. Students will then prepare a 2-3 page (typed & double-spaced) critique and analysis of the contents. Note: Anything less than 2 complete pages will be penalized points. In addition, the paper should primarily be a thoughtful critique and NOT an informed summary. The article critique should also include 1 question to be posed to the class in order to facilitate class discussion. Make sure to cite the article in your work cited page. If you wish to provide additional sources of information, please cite the source and attach it to your work cited page as well. Articles have to relate with government somehow (war, policy, healthcare, right-to-die, etc.). If you have any questions or concerns on topics please see me or the SI Leader(s). Refer to the “Book Reviews and Article Critiques” chapter in The Political Science Student Writer’s Manual to maximize your grade, as well as the resources beginning on pg. 601 of your textbook. As for the formatting, see the “Instructions for All Written Assignments” below. Note: Make sure to observe ALL of the materials in the “Article Critique Resources” section in your syllabus to help in the organization of your paper, because students who do not follow the specific formatting will be penalized points.


Students will be allowed up to five minutes for their presentations and discussion. Note: Anyone who is called on to present and is absent will automatically lose their opportunity to present and also their presentation points (30) unless there are exceptional circumstances which can be documented (e.g. death in immediate family or personal illness accompanied by a doctor’s note, etc.), and even then, the final decision is solely up to the professor.  However, I may accept the late paper with penalty. Make sure that you have selected your topic by Feb. 1st because I will be passing around a topic sheet for you to sign. Note: Once you have selected a topic you will NOT be able to change it. So, please make sure that the topic you have selected is one that is of interest to you, and not a topic that you chose at a moment’s notice because you have procrastinated with this particular assignment. Once I have compiled the list of topics, you will be assigned a specific day in which to present your article critique. The day that you are designated to present is the day that your paper is due. In addition, you will be required to take your final draft(s) to the Communication Lab in order for them to assist you with this assignment. 



First, you will need to read Robert Putnam’s article “Bowling Alone: America’s Declining Social Capital” by accessing it at Next, read the list of “100 Things You Can Do to Increase Social Capital” found in your syllabus. Select one of these activities that you do not normally do on a regular basis and attempt to have it completed during the first week of class. Be careful in the selection of your activity. Use common sense. Write a 2-3 page report (typed & double-spaced) in which you outline the details and significance of this activity. Note: Anything less than 2 complete pages will be penalized points. Papers will be graded on activity selection, format, grammar, style, content delivery, analysis, and general quality. Overall, I want you to report: 1). Why you chose a particular activity or activities; 2). how it impacted or affected you as well as the impact and affect it had on other individuals and society; and 3). in conclusion, illustrate your understanding of social capital as it was presented by Putnam. You will need to reference and cite him throughout the paper, but more importantly in the conclusion. This paper is due May 6th.


The scope and purpose of this assignment is more than simply an exercise for this course – it is larger than us, so choose an activity that you have never done prior nor one that you carry out on a regular basis. If you feel that you may be cheating, so to speak, in the activity that you have chosen then simply choose another one. Refer to the resources provided in the “Social Capital Resources” section in your syllabus. For purposes of this exercise, you may team up with other members of this class, but the paper should represent your own personal response to this activity. As for the formatting, see the “Instructions for All Written Assignments” below. In addition, you will be required to take your final draft(s) to the Communication Lab in order for them to assist you with this assignment. 



Each student will write a 8-10 page (type & double-spaced) research paper for this course. Note: Anything less than 8 complete pages will be penalized. You will choose as your topic some issue that directly relates to contemporary American politics. While you must cite sufficient references to make your paper convincing, this assignment requires a minimum of 8 references from outside sources. Students should follow an MLA style as outlined in the resources beginning on pg. 601 of your text. The research paper is due Apr. 29th. Papers will be graded on topic selection, format, grammar, writing style, research documentation, research quality, content delivery, and analysis. Please refer to the discussion of plagiarism in the “Academic Integrity Statement,” the “Instructions for All Written Assignments” (below), as well as the “Traditional Research Papers” chapter in the Political Science Student Writers Manual to maximize your grade. Note: This assignment is only necessary if you choose to substitute it for your lowest midterm grade. It is important to note that the grade you receive on the research paper may in fact be lower than the grade you received on the exam you are substituting. So please make sure that you approach each exam diligently, and not simply depend on the paper to solely bring your grade up because it could actually have a significant negative impact on your final grade.


Also, based on my experience assigning this paper, I have realized that this may be the first time that you have had to write a research paper. So, in order to ensure that you gain some experience in this assignment, as well as submitting good quality work, you will be required to work on this paper in conjunction with the Communications Lab located in the main building of the college. Typically, the lab forwards a slip(s) to my office indicating what areas (i.e. grammar, analysis, style, etc.) that they assisted with in the completion of the paper. You will also be required to keep an entry log, which will be signed off by lab workers indicating dates and times that you went to the lab or library for assistance. This log will attempt to keep you focused on this assignment, as well as informing me on how much time and overall seriousness that you dedicated to the paper. I will check your entry logs periodically to ensure that you are utilizing the services of the college. Do not cheat on signatures!! The forging of any signatures constitutes a violation of the college’s Academic Integrity policy (see below) and will automatically result in a failing grade for the paper, and could also lead to you failing the course and being withdrawn from the college. The slips that I receive from the Communications Lab should match the entries that you have on your log. Attach the log to the final draft of your paper. Note: I will not accept any research papers that have not been edited and signed off by the lab workers. Lastly, before you consider substituting a research paper for your lowest midterm grade, please come and visit with me first, because in some cases substituting a research paper may not have enough of an impact on your grade to justify writing one. Note: I must approve the topic for your research paper – NO EXCEPTIONS!!!!!!!



Each student will participate in a group research project relating to some type of issue associated with government. One topic will be assigned to two groups by participation. If this means of selecting a topic is not feasible, the professor will assign the topics to the groups. Once an issue is chosen/given, one group will argue pro and the other con in an 8–10 page (typed & double-spaced) paper. Note: Anything less than 8 complete pages will be penalized. Students will also be required to defend their arguments orally in class – 10 minutes for explanation of the subject matter and 10 minutes for rebuttals. Detailed instructions will be given at a later date. 


All papers are due Apr. 22nd. Extra points (and bragging rights) will be given to the group who defends their arguments and position the best. We will have approximately three weeks to work on this project which will require some out-of-the-class meetings during our regularly scheduled class times. Refer to the “Issue Reaction Papers” section (found in the syllabus) to maximize your grade. More detailed instructions will be provided during class.    



There will be two midterms and a final during the semester. Your lowest midterm exam grade may be dropped by substituting it for the research paper. Unless there are extraordinary circumstances which can be documented (e.g. death in immediate family, personal illness accompanied by a doctor’s note, jury duty, college-sponsored activity, etc.), THERE WILL BE NO MAKE-UPS FOR THE MIDTERM AND FINAL. Even if a student can provide documentation, your professor has full discretion in determining whether or not to allow any makeup exams. This is done to be fair to all students. However, since I may substitute the lowest midterm exam grade, no make-ups will be allowed for any undocumented reasons and, thus, you will have to complete the research paper. In case of school cancellation due to weather or other reasons during the scheduled time for the final exam, college policy will be followed in the assigning of grades, which in the past has included the professor’s best judgment to what the student has earned up until that point. Therefore, it is in your best interest not to depend upon the final exam to make up for previously poor grades. Note: Make sure that you are on time to class, especially on exam day, because no one will be allowed to take the exam if someone has already turned one in. So be on time, if not early.


Course Schedule – Spring 2013*









Introduction & Syllabus

Philosopher Sign-up

“Failing Student Excuses”

What Do You Want??

Jan 28/30

Feb 1

Brief History of Political Science

Philosopher Discussion

Political Landscape

Political Landscape (cont.)

Ch. 1 – Gateways to Democracy

Article Topics Due



Ch. 2 – American Constitution

Ch. 2 – American Constitution

Ch. 3 – Federalism



Article Presentations

Ch. 3 – Federalism

Article Presentations



Exam #1

Article Presentations

Ch. 4 – Civil Liberties

Feb 25/27

Mar 1

Ch. 4 – Civil Liberties

Ch. 4 – Civil Liberties

Article Presentations

Ch. 5 – Civil Rights



Ch. 5 – Civil Rights

Ch. 5 – Civil Rights

Article Presentations



Ch. 11 – Congress

Ch. 11 – Congress

Article Presentations

Ch. 12 – The Presidency



Spring Break

Spring Break

Spring Break



Ch. 12 – The Presidency

Ch. 12 - Presidency

Article Presentations

Ch. 14 – The Judiciary



Exam #2

Instructions for Group Project

Assigning of Groups

Research Project



Research Project

Research Project

Research Project



Research Project

Research Project

Research Project



Group Presentations

All Group Papers are Due

Group Presentations

Article Presentations

Apr 29

May 1/3

Evaluations of Group Projects

Research Papers Due

Ch. 6 – Public Opinion

Ch. 6 – Public Opinion

Ch. 9 – Political Parties



Social Capital Papers Due

Ch. 10 – Elections, Campaigns, ...

Ch. 10 – Elections, Campaigns, ...

Ch. 10 – Elections, Campaigns, ...

Article Presentations



Final Exam

Individual Meetings (by appointment) with Students

Individual Meetings (by appointment) with Students

 *Tentative – subject to change





Grading Scale






Grading Components








90 - 100

Mastery of all material



Quizzes (in Aplia)



Good and above average



Social Capital Paper






Article Presentation



Sub-par comprehension



Group Research Project



Failure to comprehend



Exam #1 (or Research Paper)






Exam #2 (or Research Paper)






Final Exam


Course Grade Worksheet:














Quiz #1



Article Critique











Quiz #2



Exam #1











Quiz #3



Exam #2











Quiz #4



Final Exam











Quiz #5



Group Project











Social Capital Paper



Research Paper







(I will not accept any papers that do not follow these formatting guidelines):

·        No folders please (except for the Group Project papers);

·        Make sure that you submit your paper with a cover page and work cited page that follows the examples on page 142 and 168 of the Scott text, as well as the examples provided in your syllabus;

·        One-inch margins (top, bottom, left, and right);

·        Use 12-point Times New Roman only;

·        Last name with page numbers should be placed in the top right hand corner of the paper (e.g. Smith 1);

·        Use MLA format which you can find beginning on pg. 601 of your text;

·        Papers must be stapled upon submission;

·        The use of block quotes is unacceptable for any written paper, or the excessive use of regular quotes, unless I approve it.

·        Unless there are exceptional circumstances which can be documented (e.g. death in immediate family or personal illness accompanied by a doctor’s note, college-sponsored activity, etc.), late papers will be penalized 10 points per day, not class period, if the professor decides to accept it. Even if a student can provide documentation, your professor has full discretion in determining whether or not to accept the late paper.

·        Make sure to peruse the handouts in the “Critical Thinking, Writing, and Presentation Tips” chapter in your syllabus to maximize your grade.  

·        ALL papers must go through the Communications Lab or they will NOT be accepted. Attach entry logs, which are located in the “Entry Logs” section of the syllabus, to all papers. Also, peruse the “Communications Lab Instructions” in your syllabus, as this will be very beneficial to your grade.




Supplemental Instruction (SI) is a series of weekly review sessions, conducted by a SI Leader, for students taking historically difficult courses. SI Leaders are chosen by the professor and are typically students who have already completed the course prior and finished at the top of their class. Who best to assist you than an SI Leader who has the experience and knowledge, and knows exactly what my expectations are for the course?  This program is a free resource offered by the school, and attendance is voluntary.  For the student, it is a chance to get together with people in your class to compare notes, to discuss important concepts, to develop strategies for studying the subject, and to test yourselves before your professor does. NOTE: SI sessions are in no way a substitute for lectures. Meaning, do not assume that you can skip class and simply attend an SI session to get fully caught up. The SI Leader will not provide you with any lecture information that you may have missed if you were absent. The SI Leader’s role is to help clarify the notes that you already have. The SI Leader’s role is also to assist and guide you through all of your assignments in order to submit good quality work which will translate into you being successful in the course. SI session days and times will be announced in class.



If you are disciplined, and do not have serious conflicts with managing time or other potentially serious educational interruptions, you will do well in this course. Be realistic. Be responsible in your studies. You will be reading approximately 20-30 pages of assigned readings per week, as well as writing a minimum of 6-10 pages over the course of the semester. Though this course is rigorous and at times may prove to be too difficult or too much for you, DO NOT GIVE UP! DO NOT BAIL ON ME! I promise as long as you meet me halfway I will get you through this course, which will prepare you for a successful transition to a four-year university. Being an Oklahoma City Community College graduate myself, who excelled at the university level, and continues to teach at major universities, I know the expectations that will be expected from you. I will provide you with the tools to be successful.          


COURSE COMPETENCIES (upon completion of the course, students will be able to):



Extra credit assignments are generally not offered, but if so, may be announced in class or in Moodle.



Make sure to check the “Announcements” in Moodle daily, because I may post additional information or notify you in case of class cancellations, changes in the syllabus, extra credit, etc. 






Based upon the Oklahoma Regents’ Statement on Course Workload and Homework [OSRHE 11-2-34], a college student should expect to spend 3 hours on average, on outside work for each hour spent in class. The message the Oklahoma Regents are communicating is that if you have a full-time job (30-40 hours) you should not at the same time maintain a full-time academic schedule (12-15 hours). If you expect to do well, plan to put in the time!



Oklahoma City Community College complies with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Students with disabilities who seek accommodations must make their request by contacting the Office of Student Support Services located on the first floor of the main building near SEM entry 3 or by calling 682-7520. All accommodations must be approved by the Office of Student Disability Services.



Oklahoma City Community College is committed to providing quality educational experiences to all students and to striving for continuous improvement in its programs and services.  Student assessment is vital to the educational process and can be of significant value to you and to the students who follow you. 

To ensure that adequate assessment information is available to allow OCCC to continuously improve programs and services, you may be asked to participate in personal interviews; take program and/or general education assessments, which could be tests; give oral presentations, write assignments, take surveys, or engage in other activities.  You may be asked to complete the assessments, tests, and other activities during designated times, which may include class periods.  These opportunities are your chance to help OCCC improve the courses, programs, and services which could affect you and will certainly impact students in the future.    


Oklahoma City Community College places the highest value on student learning and academic integrity is critical for that learning to take place. A lack of academic integrity will undermine the learning process leaving students less prepared to face challenges in future classes as well as in the work environment. Therefore Oklahoma City Community College expects all students to meet the highest ethical standards in their academic pursuits. Faculty and staff share in the responsibility to ensure standards are maintained.


Violations of academic integrity are viewed very seriously. Any form of academic dishonesty is subject to disciplinary action by the college.


The absence of academic integrity is described as cheating, often defined as “the deception of others about one’s work.” Such acts may include but are not limited to the following list compiled by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education Advisory Council:

·         Submitting another’s work as one’s own or allowing another to submit one’s work as though it were his or hers.

·         Several people completing an assignment and turning in multiple copies, all represented either implicitly or explicitly as individual work.

·         Failing to contribute an equal share in group assignments or projects while claiming equal credit for the work.

·         Using a textbook, notes, or technology tools during an examination without permission of the instructor.

·         Receiving or giving unauthorized help on assignment or examinations.
Stealing a problem solution or assessment answers from a professor, a student or other sources.

·         Tampering with experimental data to obtain “desired” results, or creating results for experiments not done.

·         Creating results for observations or interviews that were not done.

·         Obtaining an unfair advantage by gaining or providing access to examination materials prior to the time authorized by the professor.

·         Tampering with or destroying the work of others.

·         Submitting substantial portions of the same academic work for credit or honors more than once without permission of the present professor.

·         Lying about these or other academic matters.

·         Falsifying college records, forms or other documents.

·         Accessing computer systems or files without authorization.

·         Plagiarizing (Plagiarism is generally defined as the use in one’s writing of specific words, phrases, and/or ideas of another without giving proper credit.)

Any violation of academic integrity by a student that is detected by a college staff member shall be reported by the staff member to the appropriate professor or College administrator.


Should a professor determine that a student violation of academic integrity has occurred, the following actions shall be taken.

·         The professor may record a zero for the assignment, require the student to redo the assignment, assign a failing grade in the class, or recommend other appropriate action.

·         The professor shall present in writing to the appropriate Dean and to the Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs a description of the specific occurrence, supporting documentation and action taken.

·         The Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs shall send the student a certified letter that verifies that a report of the incident and the professor’s actions is on file in the office of the Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs. The student may file an appeal in accordance with the Student Appeal of a Grade Procedure if he/she believes that an erroneous or unfair accusation has been made.

·         The Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs may file an official complaint of a Student Conduct Code Violation if a) the incident is an extreme violation or b) if there are repeated instances of violations on file. The Student Conduct Code is published each year in the Student Handbook.

Revised 2010


As members of the academic community, students are expected to recognize and uphold standards of intellectual and academic integrity. The Political Science Department expects that its students will conduct themselves honestly. This means, above all, that students submit for credit work that is the product of their own efforts. Principles of academic integrity require that all dishonest work be rejected as a basis for academic credit, and that students refrain from any and all forms of dishonorable conduct in the course of their academic work.


The examples and definitions given below are intended to clarify the standards by which academic honesty and integrity is judged. The list is merely illustrative of some of the more common infractions. It is not intended to be exhaustive. Any question a student has about what constitutes inappropriate behavior should be directed towards their instructor. The rule of thumb to follow is: If in doubt, ASK!




Definitions and Examples


Plagiarism - Plagiarism is presenting another person’s work as one’s own. Plagiarism includes not only the exact use of another’s words, word for word, but also the paraphrasing or summarizing of the works of another person without acknowledgment, including the submitting of another student’s work as one’s own. The student is responsible for understanding the legitimate use of sources, the appropriate ways of acknowledging academic, scholarly, or creative indebtedness, and the consequences of violating this responsibility. In case of doubt, give a citation of the author you are using. Failure to indicate the extent and nature of one's reliance on other sources is plagiarism. A plagiarized paper will result in a failing grade on the work in question and perhaps for the entire course.


Cheating on Examinations - Cheating on examinations involves giving or receiving unauthorized help before, during, or after an examination. Examples of unauthorized help include the use of notes, texts, or "crib sheets" during an examination (unless receiving instructor approval), or sharing information with another student either during or after an examination. A student caught cheating will result in a failing grade on the work in question and perhaps for the entire course.


Falsification - It is a violation of academic honesty to misrepresent material or to fabricate information in an academic exercise or assignment (e.g. false or misleading citation of sources, the falsification of the results of experiments or of computer data). A student caught fabricating information will result in a failing grade on the work in question and perhaps for the entire course.


Multiple Submissions - It is a violation of academic honesty to submit substantial portions of the same work for credit more than once without the explicit consent of the instructor to whom the material is being submitted the second time. A student caught submitting multiple submissions will result in a failing grade on the work in question and perhaps for the entire course.




The health and safety of all our students, faculty, and staff are OCCC’s prime concern. The procedures outlined below are designed to deal with emergencies of various types. Students should always follow the lead of their instructors.



First notification will come from the fire alarm horns, sirens, and strobes. The class should gather their belongings, exit the building using the nearest exit, and move to a parking lot. Do not use the elevators. No alarm should be treated as a false alarm. Horns, sirens, and strobes are only used for fire alarms.


Fire (Special Considerations)

If someone in your area is not physically capable of descending the stairwell, please ensure that they remain in the “area of safe refuge” located just inside each upper-level enclosed first stairwell. There are emergency phones located near each of these areas.



For all medical related issues push the ”emergency” button located on each classroom phone. The phone will display your room number, allowing for fast response to your location. All security officers are trained as first responders and will assist in guiding EMSA to your location. Treat all bodily fluids as if they were contaminated.







If you receive a bomb threat, document as much information as possible and push the “emergency” button on the phone. If the decision to evacuate is given, the phone will sound an alarm and display a text message. The class should gather their belongings, exit the building using the nearest exit, and move to an open grassy area. Please turn off all wireless devices. (Cell phones, radios, laptops, and other portable devices.)



Tornado warnings that include OCCC will be sent directly to the classroom phone. The phone will sound and alarm and display a text message. The class should gather their belongings, move away from exterior glass and exits, and move to safer areas. These areas are lower-level interior classrooms, restrooms, and stairwells. You should familiarize yourself with the safer areas near your classroom(s). If the city/county sirens are sounding and OCCC is not in the warning area a message will be sent to the classroom phone advising this information.



If someone is causing a disturbance in a classroom call security immediately. Push the “emergency” button located on each classroom phone. Distance yourself from that person, do not place yourself in the person’s exit path and remove all potential weapons from the area. Shelter in place: If there is an armed person or shooter on campus: Close and lock your hallway doors. Turn off the lights, shut the blinds or move away from exposed areas. Use desks, tables and other objects to provide protection. Updated information will be sent to the classroom phone.