Political Science 100 – American Government and Politics

Northern Illinois University

Fall Semester 2006

Tuesdays and Thursdays, 11:00-12:15


Professor:  Rebecca J. Hannagan

Office Hours:  Tuesdays and Thursdays, 1:30 – 2:30 pm and by appointment

Office:  ZH 406

Contact Info:  753-9675, rhannaga@niu.edu


Course Objective:  This course examines the institutions and operations of American national government and politics. We focus primarily on the national level with occasional coverage of state and local levels and comparisons with other countries. We examine how people compete to influence government.  This course describes and analyzes how groups and individuals try to get government to do what they want.


Course Materials: 

“The Promise and Performance of American Democracy” 7th edition, by Bond, Smith and Watson

“Smart Thinking” 2nd edition, by Allen


Calculation of Grades:  Your grade in this course will consist of your performance on four exams (3 unit exams and 1 cumulative final exam), various homework assignments, and quizzes.  The following is a breakdown of how the grades will be weighted:


Exam 1            15%                 Exam 4            15%                                        

Exam 2            15%                 Quizzes           20%

Exam 3            15%                 Homework      20%


I will adhere to the following grading scale:

100-97% = A+

89-87% = B+

79-77% = C+

69-67% = D+

59% < = F

96-93% = A

86-83% = B

76-73% = C

66-63% = D


92-90% = A-

82-80% = B-

72-70% = C-

62-60% = D-



Quizzes:  Quizzes will be administered via an online testing system called EDU.  During the first or second week of classes I will give you a login id and password for you to access the EDU system as well as explain how it works.  Quizzes are to be taken in your own time to help you keep on track and progress through the material in the text in preparation for the exams.  You have five opportunities to take each quiz.  There is no time limit and you can use your textbook.  You cannot take a quiz twice in one day, however.  If you do not pass you need to return to the text and cover what you did not understand and attempt the quiz again the next calendar day.  The objective is to spend time with the material in preparation for the exams.  The concepts covered in the quizzes will be covered in your exams.  It is in your best interest to take quizzes several times a week to familiarize yourself with the material.



General Information:  There are 16 chapters in the textbook and we will cover all of them.  As you can see in the schedule below, each class corresponds with a particular chapter in the text.  So, for example, you should read Chapter 2 on the American Constitution in preparation for class on September 5th and 7th.  You are expected to have your reading done each day before you come to class.  I will give unannounced homework assignments that correspond to the readings.  I use Blackboard for making course announcements as well as grading, so check it often throughout the semester.  I do not accept late work (NO EXCEPTIONS!).  I reserve the right to modify the schedule in the interest of time or due to the difficulty of the material.  If I decide to modify the schedule I will notify the class immediately upon my decision and post any announcements on Blackboard.  If changes are made and you are not aware of them because you do not regularly attend class or choose to sleep during class, there will be no exceptions made to accommodate you.  It is in your best interest to attend every class and pay attention to the material being covered. 


This syllabus is a contract between me (the professor) and you (the student).  The syllabus will be available on Blackboard throughout the semester for your reference.  If you have any questions about the policies set forth in the syllabus, I highly recommend that you talk to me during the first week of classes.  It is at that time that any significant changes can be made.  After that, if you choose to remain in the class I assume that you agree to the policies and procedures I have set forth in the syllabus. 


Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, NIU is committed to making reasonable accommodations for persons with documented disabilities.  Those students with disabilities that may have some impact on their coursework and for which they may require accommodations should notify the Center for Access-Ability Resources (CARR) on the fourth floor of the Health Services Building.  CAAR will assist students in making appropriate accommodations with course instructors.  It is important that CARR and instructors be informed of any disability-related needs during the first two weeks of the semester.


Academic Dishonesty:  The maintenance of academic honesty and integrity is of vital concern to the Department of Political Science and the University community. Any student found guilty of academic dishonesty shall be subject to both academic and disciplinary sanctions.  If I find that you have plagiarized your academic work, you will receive an F on the assignment – no exceptions.  If you are caught cheating, falsifying, or otherwise misrepresenting your work twice, you will fail the class.  In addition, if I suspect academic dishonesty your name will be turned over to the Chair of the Political Science Department who will make a determination as to further disciplinary action which may include academic probation or expulsion.


Academic dishonesty includes, but is not limited to, the following: cheating, fabrication and falsification, plagiarism, and misrepresentation to avoid academic work.  If you are unsure whether something is considered academic dishonesty, ask me.  It is much better to be overzealous at the outset and ask many questions to avoid being accused of cheating, plagiarism, and so forth.  I would like to reiterate that I take this very seriously and therefore, so should you.




Tentative Schedule:


August 29:  Introduction – The Promise of Democracy pp. 2-29


August 31:  No Class (I will be attending a conference)


I.          The Foundations of American National Government


September 5:  The American Constitution pp. 30-61


September 7:  The American Constitution


September 12:  Federalism pp. 62-95


September 14:  Federalism


September 19:  Civil Liberties pp. 96-123


September 21:  Civil Liberties


September 26:  Civil Rights pp. 124-155


September 28:  Civil Rights


October 3:  Exam 1 – Foundations


II.        Linkage Mechanisms:  How People Connect to Government


October 5:  Interest Groups pp. 156-187

October 10:  Political Parties pp. 188-229


October 12:  The Mass Media pp. 230-255


October 17:  The Mass Media


October 19:  Public Opinion and Socialization pp. 256-283


October 24:  Public Opinion and Socialization


October 26:  Elections pp. 284-325


October 31: Voting Behavior and Participation pp. 326-357


November 2:  Exam 2 – Linkage Mechanisms


III.       The Institutions of American National Government


November 7:  Congress pp. 358-399


November 9: Congress


November 14:  The Presidency pp. 400-441


November 16:  The Presidency


November 21:  The Bureaucracy pp. 442-469


November 23: No Class – Thanksgiving Break


November 28: The Judiciary pp. 470-509


November 30:  The Judiciary


December 5:  Exam 3 – Institutions


December 7:  Policy Performance - Last Day of Class pp. 510-531


Final Exam:  Tues. December 12, 10:00-11:50 a.m.