American Federal Government – POL 1113 (Spring 2010) (Online)

(Sections: POLSC_1113_W09_060928 & W10_060929 & W11_060930)



Professor:              Markus Smith

Office:                   1H13(F) – Social Sciences Center (SSC)

Phone:                   682-1611 Ext. 7730

Email:                    Use Angel’s internal email to contact me. If you have any issues with emailing, you need to contact technical support @ 682-1611 Ext. 7574.

Office Hours:         M: 7:30-9; W: 7:30-9, 11-12 & 4:30-5:30; F: 7:00-9; and TR: 1-2 (Online students Only)                             

About The Instructor:

I am currently the department Chair for Political Science at Oklahoma City Community College and a lecturer professor of political science at the University of Central Oklahoma. I am a three-time graduate, receiving my Associate of Arts in Political Science from Oklahoma City Community College; a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science (Public Administration) with a minor in Criminal Justice; and a Master of Arts in Political Science (Public Affairs) from the University of Central Oklahoma. I am currently attending the University of Oklahoma where I am finishing up my Ph.D. in Educational Studies with an emphasis on Sociological Issues in Public Policy, Social Justice, and Human Relations, as well as having completed an extensive amount of coursework in the political science Ph.D. program. 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. I also have publications in the areas of capital punishment, public policy, and political behavior. I have chaired several panel discussions on topics such as Abortion, Affirmative Action, Same Sex Marriage, the Death Penalty, and the Patriot Act. I have also served on several committees including: Search and Hiring; Employee and Student Grievance; Grade Appeal; and Student Technology Fee to name a few. In my spare time I have taught, trained and coached U.S. Junior National, U.S. Senior National, and U.S. Collegiate National team members in Taekwondo as an Instructor at Poos Taekwondo in Edmond for the past twelve 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 (



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.



This is NOT a self-paced course but one that requires you to complete materials at regular due dates throughout the semester.  Please take specific note of due dates for exams, readings, article critiques, etc. in the course “calendar” on the homepage.  Due to the structure of the course, no late work will be accepted for ANY reason, so please plan accordingly.




Dye, T. and Sparrow, B. 2009. Politics in America (8th Ed.). Library of Congress: Prentice-Hall.    [Required]


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




·       Is this the course for me?  If you are disciplined, committed to learning material on your own and do not have serious conflicts with managing time or other potentially serious educational interruptions, this is the course for you and you will do well in it, even if government is not necessarily “your thing.”  Be realistic.  Often, online courses are more difficult than on-campus courses for most students because the learning environment consists only of you and your online professor (although a discussion board can connect you to others in the class and its use is encouraged although not graded). THOROUGHLY READ THROUGH THIS SYLLABUS.


·       How do I study?  The best strategy for success in this course is to first look over the learning objectives for the chapter. Second, look over the PowerPoints for that chapter located in the Lessons folder. Third, read the chapter in your course text. Finally, answer the course “learning objectives” also found in the Lessons folder. The learning objectives are what I use to construct my exams, so treat them like a study guide.


         Feel free to come and visit me anytime during my office hours (i.e. MWF) so that we can sit down and look over your learning objectives. The Tuesday and Thursday office hours which I have set aside for online students ONLY, means that I will be logged in to your course and should be able to respond to your emails immediately. In accordance with that, please DO NOT email me asking for answers on the learning objectives because you have simply not done the readings. I will know if you have thoroughly read each chapter with the questions that you ask, so please make note of this. I can assure you that ALL of the information is found within each chapter. Remember, you are not on your own here.  Remember that there is a discussion board where you can post questions about material for others to see.  You may also e-mail your classmates about content questions.





Students need to have selected a topic 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). The topics that are chosen should be something related to American Politics. Examples include, but you should find other topics and be more creative, such as the War in Iraq, abortion, same sex marriage, gas prices, Bush’s approval ratings, Nancy Pelosi, etc. 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. 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 “Article Critiques Folder” in the Lessons folder to help in the organization of your paper. Remember, I do not accept late work under any circumstances due to the structure of the class. The critique papers will be due on Mar. 8th (via email as an attachment), no later than 5:00 p.m. (central-standard time). As for the formatting, see the “Instructions For All Written Assignments” in the Lesson folder.


To document your critical thinking, students will submit a critical analysis paper which will cover a specific topic (of your choice) covered from any chapter in your text. Papers will primarily be graded based on the quality of analysis illustrated within the paper. It may be obvious that you may have to express your opinion within the paper; however, as long as your opinion does not dominate the paper, you should be fine. There should be more analysis and less opinion. Remember, this is an analysis paper and NOT an opinion paper. Meaning, to say: “I think abortions are wrong” is definitely an opinion. However, when you explain why having an abortion is wrong, then you get into analysis and form critical thinking. It is very simple to state whether something is right or wrong in your opinion. Analysis and critical thinking, on the other hand, entails a lot more effort. Refer to the Critical Thinking Exercises chapter in The Political Science Student Writer’s Manual, as well as the “Critical Analysis Paper Folder” located in the Lessons folder to maximize your grade. Your analysis papers should be 2-3 pages (typed and double-spaced). Note: Anything less than 2 complete pages will be penalized points. The critical analysis papers will be due on Apr. 12th (via email as an attachment), no later than 5:00 p.m. (central-standard time). As for the formatting, see the “Instructions For All Written Assignments” in the Lesson folder.



You will need to read Bowling Alone by Robert Putnam. You can access the article at Next, read the list of “100 Things You Can Do to Increase Social Capital, as well as the examples found in the “Social Capital Paper Folder” located in the Lessons folder. Select one of these activities that you do not normally do on a regular basis and attempt to have it completed prior to Thanksgiving or sooner. Be careful in the selection of your activity. Use common sense Write up a 4-6 page report (typed & double-spaced) in which you outline the details and significance of this activity. Note: Anything less than 4 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 why you chose a particular activity, and how it impacted or affected you as well as the impact and effect it had on other individuals. The scope and purpose of this assignment is more than simply an exercise for this course – its larger than me or you, so choose an activity that you have never done prior or one that you do not do 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 examples by Pashai and VanHoose provided in your syllabus. Note that their papers do not fulfill your page length requirement, so make sure that your papers meet the minimum. The Social Capital papers will be due on May 3rd (via email as an attachment), no later than 5:00 p.m. (central-standard time). As for the formatting, see the “Instructions For All Written Assignments” in the Lesson folder.



There will be three exams (two midterms and one final) during the semester. Exams consist of 40 multiple choice questions (worth 2 points each) plus 5 short answer/essay questions (worth 4 points each). 


** In order to uphold academic integrity, ALL exams are scheduled to be taken in the campus Test Center. Lastly, you will have approximately ONE WEEK to complete each exam. For a complete schedule of due dates, consult the course calendar on the Homepage.             


And because you have a “week” window to complete each exam, failure to complete an exam by the closing date for ANY reason will result in a grade of zero being recorded for that exam.  Please consult the exam due dates and arrange your schedule to complete exams during normal hours of Test Center operation (Monday thru Thursday 8:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. & Friday & Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.) — the Test Center is not open on Sundays. Testing Center hours are subject to change, so it is your responsibility to make sure of any changes. You can simply check Testing Center hours on their webpage: Also, you will need to arrive at the Testing Center one hour prior to them closing or you will be turned away. That is not my policy this is Testing Center procedures, so please plan accordingly. I, however, strongly encourage you to arrive two hours prior to closing because it may take some of you more than an hour to complete the exam.


Please make sure to ask one of the Testing Center representatives for the “Online” exam. Otherwise, you will be given a different exam that may not cover exactly what I have pointed out for you in your learning objectives. Generally, exam grades will be posted online approximately three days following the DUE DATE for each exam. Also, when arriving to the Testing Center, students who do not have CURRENT OCCC student ID’s will not be allowed to take their exams. That is not my policy; it is the Testing Center’s policy. They will be asking and checking for your student ID’s as soon as you walk in. Make sure to check the “Student Guidelines for Testing” on their webpage.


Lastly, make sure to thoroughly and completely fill out your learning objectives. The learning objectives, located in the Lessons folder, are your "blueprint" and "study guide" for the course. Exam questions are taken directly from these objectives! You will not do well on the exam if you do not work through the objectives for each chapter.  



All of the assignments (i.e. Article Critique, Critical Analysis Paper, Social Capital Paper, and 3 exams) are worth 100 points each for a total of 600 points.


A = 540-600, B = 480-539, C = 420-479, D = 360-419, F = 0-359



·       When preparing for the exams, it is imperative that you first look over the learning objectives for the chapter that you are about to thoroughly read. Next, read the entire chapter and look over the chapter summaries. Lastly, go back and try to answer the learning objectives for that chapter. This method will prove successful if you actually uphold to it.


·       There will be no extra credit available for this course.


·       Please utilize ALL of the resources provided to you in your Lessons folder. You will be successful in the course if you utilize these resources.


·       Remember to email me via the internal email function in Angel. I will NOT accept any emails from online students that are sent to my regular OCCC email. If you are having issues using Angel to send me emails, contact technical support @682-1611 Ext. 7574.


·       Remember, I do not accept late work under any circumstances due to the structure of the class. All of your papers are due no later than 5:00 p.m.; not 5:01!!!


·       Make sure that you are fully aware of all deadlines and due dates for all assignments and exams. Remember, the submissions of papers are due via email as an attachment no later than 5:00 p.m. (central-standard time).


·       WARNING: As you will see from the course calendar, if you are going to be gone for ANY period of time during the semester, you may need to drop this course and re-enroll at a different time.  This course is NOT a self-paced course!


·       Waiting until the final day to take an exam or submit a paper is NOT a great idea.  If ALL copies of the exam are in use, a student may be forced to wait until another student completes that exam before being allowed to take it. Also, anything could happen just before you get to the Testing Center to meet their one-hour-before-close policy, or you may have some technical issues with submitting your papers via email, so please do not PROCRASTINATE!!





·       WARNING:  This online format for a college course does not fit all students. Studying ONLINE requires serious discipline to study the materials ENTIRELY on the student’s own.  Online courses are generally considered to be MORE DIFFICULT than an in-class setting by most students because they do not receive the benefit of “hearing” the material presented or discussed in class. Note that there is a course “discussion” icon where students may ask each other content questions.  The discussion board is not part of the course grade, but utilize it to your advantage anyways. Lastly, feel free to drop by my office during my office hours if you have specific questions that may need to be addressed in person (e.g. learning objectives, your status in the course, etc.).


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

  • Demonstrate an understanding of fundamental constitutional principles, such as democracy, federalism, separation of powers and checks and balances, determining the extent to which the U.S. conforms to the definition of democracy.
  • List and describe the characteristics of the major political institutions in the U.S. , legislative, executive and judicial, including the roles and powers of each.  Analyze the functions of each political institution and their relationship to each other.
  • Identify and discuss the roles of political parties, interest groups, and political action committees.  Demonstrate how the public’s demands are conveyed to the political system and how they provide opportunities for public representation.  Demonstrate knowledge of the federal elections process and the role of citizens in that process.
  • Describe the processes which produce government policies in the U.S. and analyze the impact of major policies on citizens and on society.
  • Demonstrate an ability to do some light research and to critically analyze government issues.



Make sure to check my webpage ( daily, because I may post additional information or notify you in case of class cancellations, changes in the syllabus, 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 academic accommodations must make their request by: Contacting the Office of Student Support Services located on the first floor of the main building near entry 12, or call 682-7520. 



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.   



Cheating = Failure (please refer to attached Academic Integrity Statement). Cheating is unacceptable conduct and will result in an automatic grade of "F" for the course, and be reported to Academic Affairs. Students are required to do all of the work for this class on their own. Copying answers to exercises or examinations from anyone constitutes cheating. Allowing another student to copy one’s answers will be treated as cheating. Consulting with the instructor about any assignment does not constitute cheating and is encouraged.

Academic Integrity Statement


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.


Good Luck in the Course!