Syllabus

Northern Illinois University

The U.S. Congress

POLS 307 – Section 0001 – LEC # 9919

Fall 2009

 

Professor – Dr. Scot Schraufnagel

Class Time – MWF 11:00 a.m. to 11:50 a.m.

Class Location – DuSable Hall 459

Office Hours – MWF 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

  I will also be available immediately before and after classes.

Office Location – 410 Zulauf Hall 

Office Phone Number – (815) 753-7054

E-mail – sschrauf@niu.edu

 

Note: E-mail should NOT be used as the sole means of communication with the professor.  There is no guarantee that I will receive the correspondence or receive it in a timely fashion.  You should plan to talk to me in person, before and after class, or in office hours regarding planned absences and other important matters.  Phone calls, especially during office hours are a good way to communicate, as well. No Grades will be given out over the phone or by e-mail.

 

Required Texts:

Dodd, Larence C. and Bruce Oppenheimer. 2009. Congress Reconsidered-9th

                Edition). Washington, D.C.: CQ Press.

 ISBN: 978-0-87289-616-1

 

Mondak, Jeffery J., and Dona-Gene Mitchell, Editors. 2009. Fault Lines: Why the Republicans

            Lost Congress. New York: Routledge-Taylor & Francis Group.

            ISBN: 978-0-415-99362-3

 

Course Objectives: This is a course on the United States Congress and is intended to familiarize students with practical aspects of the functioning of Congress, but also acquaint students with some of the major modern academic debates about the effectiveness of the U.S. legislature. Students successfully completing the course will gain an appreciation for the multifarious institutions that make up the U.S. Congress; pros and cons of specific institutional arrangements; will improve their social science related vocabulary; and become more familiar with the way laws are made (or not made) today.

 

Withdrawal Policy – If you wish to withdraw from the course at any time you must do so yourself.  My policy is to NOT administratively withdraw any student for any reason.  Withdrawal deadline for fall 2009 is October 16th.  It is your responsibility to keep track of the withdraw deadline.

 

Evaluation Process – The course will be graded on a total points system and there will be a possible 300 points for the course.  There will be five section exams and a comprehensive final exam.  Each section exam will be worth 50 points and the final exam will be worth 100 points.  However, you must drop the lowest score from the five section exams.  Hence, there will be 200 points attributed to section exams.  Your four best section exam scores will be added to your score on the 100-point comprehensive final exam.  All students must take the final exam.  In addition, there will be possible extra points that students can earn by doing homework assignments (see below) and by attending class regularly.

 

280-300 Points – A                 250-279 Points – B                 200-249 Points – C                

180-199 – D                < 180 – F

 

Homework Assignments:  There will be five homework assignments that coincide with the five section exams and each is worth a possible seven points.  However, the points are awarded only if the exam is one of the four that is used to calculate your final grade.  Hence, there are 28 possible points available for these homework assignments.  The assignments will be given out approximately one week in advance of their due date (see the schedule below for due dates). PLEASE NOTE: Students must complete at least three of these assignments and earn a minimum of 3 points on each of the three assignments.  There will be a twenty-five (25) point deduction from the student’s final exam score if they fail to turn in at least three homework assignments that earn a total of nine points.

   

The assignments will ask you to respond to questions posed by the Instructor.  The answers will be found in the required textbooks.  Completion of these assignments will earn you points on the section exams, but will also help prepare you for the exams.  All assignments are due at the beginning of class on the date specified in the schedule below.  Late assignments will not be accepted. Assignments must be typed, double-spaced, with font Times New Roman-12. Margins should be 1Ό inches left and right and 1-inch top and bottom.  Students should include a cover page that identifies themselves and the Assignment #.  See the Grading Criteria sheet at the end of the syllabus for more details.

 

Attendance Policy:  Attendance IS required. However, there is no penalty for being absent until you have been documented as not being in attendance for the seventh time.  Students documented as not in attendance eight or more times will need to write a single-spaced paper equal in length to the number of absences they have accumulated.  The topic of the paper will be provided by the professor and the paper will be due on the last day of finals week (12/12/2009).  On the last day of class students missing eight or more times will receive their paper topic (either in person or by e-mail). There are no points associated with the excessive absences’ paper.  The paper will be graded on a pass/fail basis.  If a student fails to complete the excessive absences’ paper, or receives a failing grade on the excessive absences paper they will receive a grade of “F” in the course regardless of their performance on section exams and the final exam.

 

Furthermore, there will be extra points awarded to students with perfect attendance and possibly extra points awarded to students with near perfect attendance.  The exact amount of points to be awarded and the names of the students so entitled will be announced on the last scheduled day of class.  To receive extra credit attendance points, it will make no difference if absences are excused or not, if you were not present when attendance is taken you will lose your eligibility for any possible extra credit attendance points.  NEVER come up to the professor at the end of class and ask to be considered present if you were not present when attendance was taken.  When an attendance sign-up sheet is used it is your responsibility to make sure you sign the sheet as it goes around the room.  Furthermore, if you are documented as being late, leaving early, walking out in the middle of class, or in any other way being disruptive or rude (e.g. reading a newspaper, talking) you will lose any eligibility for extra credit attendance points.

 

Section Exams:  The section exams and the final exam will be mostly multiple choice questions with possibly some short answer or matching questions.  There will be no make-up exams.  If you know you are going to miss a section exam you can arrange to take it early.  If you miss an exam because of illness or emergency that exam will be the one that is dropped.  All section exams will last a maximum of fifty minutes.  If you run late for class this will reduce the amount of time that you will have available to complete the exam.  

 

Note: If you happen to miss two section exams because of emergency situations there is the possibility of a make-up exam. However, both emergence situations would need to be documented and I would need to be informed of the second emergency absence prior to the absence taking place.  There is no need to inform me prior to a first emergency absence because that exam will simply be dropped from consideration.  But, I will need to be informed of the second emergency absence prior to the class time in question.  Because the likelihood of a single person having two emergency situations in the course of a single semester that coincide with five predetermined exam times is so remote, I do not anticipate giving any make-up exams.  

 

CLASS SCHEDUALE

 

Date

Lecture Topics/Exams and Assignments

Reading Assignment

08/24/09

Syllabus Distributed – Congressional Vocabulary

Dodd and Oppenheimer – Chapters 1-6

08/26/09

Congressional History and

Congressional Elections-Part 1

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08/28/09

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08/31/09

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09/02/09

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09/04/09

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09/07/09

Labor Day – No Class

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09/09/09

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09/11/09

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Homework 1 Due

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09/14/09

Section Exam 1

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09/16/09

Go over Exam 1

Congressional Elections-Part 2 and Congress and the Political Parties

Dodd and Oppenheimer – Chapters 7-12

09/18/09

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09/21/09

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09/23/09

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09/25/09

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09/28/09

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Homework 2 Due

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09/30/09

Section Exam 2

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10/02/09

Go over Exam 2

Congress and the Media; Public Opinion and Interest Groups

Dodd and Oppenheimer – Chapters 13-18

10/05/09

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10/07/09

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10/09/09

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10/12/09

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10/14/09

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10/16/09

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Homework 3 Due

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10/19/09

Section Exam 3

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10/21/09

Go over Exam 3

The Legislative Process  and Congress and the President

Mondak and Mitchell –

Chapters 1-4

10/23/09

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10/26/09

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10/28/09

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10/30/09

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11/02/09

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11/04/09

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11/06/09

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Homework 4 Due

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11/09/09

Section Exam 4

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11/11/09

Go over Exam 4

Congress and Public Policy and Congressional Reform

Mondak and Mitchell –

Chapters 5-8

11/13/09

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11/16/09

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11/18/09

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11/20/09

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11/23/09

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11/25-27/09

Thanksgiving Break

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11/30/09

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Homework 5 Due

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12/02/09

Section Exam 5

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12/04/09

Go over Exam 5

Preview the Final Exam

 

12/09/09

Final Exam – 10:00a

 

12/12/09

Excessive Absences Paper Due

410 Zulauf Hall

 

 

Disclaimer - Test times, class schedules and reading assignments are all subject to change.  Regular attendance in class will assure that students will have all the needed information to successfully complete the course.        

 

Academic Honor Code: Academic dishonesty:  In preparing for your work and meeting the requirements of this course, you are expected to adhere to all the rules, regulations, and standards set forth by the Department of Political Science, Northern Illinois University, and the scholarly community.  This statement encompasses intentional and unintentional plagiarism; cheating on examinations; using, purchasing, or stealing others’ work; misusing library materials; and so forth.  The NIU Undergraduate Catalog states:

Good academic work must be based on honesty. The attempt of any student to present as his or her own work that which he or she has not produced is regarded by the faculty and administration as a serious offense. Students are considered to have cheated if they copy the work of another during an examination or turn in a paper or an assignment written, in whole or in part, by someone else. Students are guilty of plagiarism, intentional or not, if they copy material from books, magazines, or other sources without identifying and acknowledging those sources or if they paraphrase ideas from such sources without acknowledging them. Students guilty of, or assisting others in, either cheating or plagiarism on an assignment, quiz, or examination may receive a grade of F for the course involved and may be suspended or dismissed from the university. (Undergraduate Catalog)

If you are not sure what constitutes plagiarism, ask.  Ignorance will not be tolerated as an excuse.  If you are unaware of how to cite properly, visit http://polisci.niu.edu/polisci/audience/plagiarism.shtml.  

 

Students with Disabilities: 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.

 

Undergraduate Writing Awards: The Department of Political Science will recognize, on an annual basis, outstanding undergraduate papers written in conjunction with 300-400 level political science courses or directed studies. Authors do not have to be political science majors or have a particular class standing. Winners are expected to attend the Department’s spring graduation ceremony where they will receive a certificate and $50.00. Papers, which can be submitted by students or faculty, must be supplied in triplicate to a department secretary by February 28. All copies should have two cover pages - one with the student’s name and one without the student’s name. Only papers written in the previous calendar year can be considered for the award. However, papers completed in the current spring semester are eligible for the following year’s competition even if the student has graduated.

 

Department of Political Science Web Site: Undergraduates are encouraged to consult the Department of Political Science web site on a regular basis. This up-to-date, central source of information will assist students in contacting faculty and staff, reviewing course requirements and syllabi, exploring graduate study, researching career options, tracking department events, and accessing important details related to undergraduate programs and activities. To reach the site, go to http://polisci.niu.edu.  Also, if you would like to receive the department’s e-announcements that feature information on internships, scholarships, lectures, POLS club activities, and other important information via email, please let me know and I will make sure you are added to the list. 

 

Grading Rubric for Homework Assignments

Fall 2009

 

There is no predetermined length for homework assignments.  However, it is difficult to imagine a paper less than 600 words being sufficiently complete to earn full credit. 

 

Homework assignments are worth a possible 7 points each.  Every assignment turned in starts as a "5."

 

Subtract 1 point for each occurrence of the following:

a. Bad Grammar (multiple problems)

b. Wrong Answer (erroneous information provided)

c. Incomplete or Brief Answers

d. Failure to follow style requirements specified in the syllabus.

e. No staple

 

You can earn two extra points by:

f. Citing literature from the following four journals. American Political Science Review, American Journal of Political Science, Legislative Studies Quarterly, or Journal of Politics. Full text of these journals is available through JSTOR.org, which can be accessed through the NIU library system.  You must provide a full citation with your posting.  You get one point for each appropriate citation (up to two additional points are available).