Syllabus – American Government & Politics

POLS 100 – CRN # 5900

Spring 2010


Professor – Dr. Scot Schraufnagel

Class Time – 12:00 – 12:50p: Monday and Wednesday

Office Hours – MWF 11:00 to 11:50 & 1:10 to 3:00; also by appointment and I will be available immediately before and after class.

Class Location – Montgomery Auditorium

Office Phone Number – (815) 753-7054

Office Location – 410 Zulauf Hall

E-mail –

Note: E-mail should NOT be used as a way to communicate any important information.  There is no guarantee that I will receive the correspondence in a timely fashion.  You should plan to talk to me in person, before and after class regarding planned absences and other important matters.  You may also choose to use your teaching assistant’s office hours to discuss matters of importance. Grades will NOT be given out, by me or by any of the teaching assistants, over the telephone or by e-mail.


Required Text – Barbour, Christine et al. 2009. Keeping the Republic, 4th Edition +

            Clued   in to Politics, 3rd Edition + The First Year: Obama in the Oval Office

            Package. Washington D.C.: CQ Press.

ISBN: 978-1-60426-976-5


Course Objectives – This course is intended to familiarize students with the basic institutional structures of American Government.  To this end, there will be discussion of the Constitution, federalism, and each of the three branches of government.  We will also discuss the role played by non-governmental institutions such as political parties, the media, and interest groups.  A primary focus will be placed on learning the jargon or language of politics in this country.  Students successfully completing the course will have gained considerable knowledge of the basic institutional framework of the national government and will become more astute in understanding media coverage of politics in this country. 


Withdrawal Policy – It is your responsibility to keep track of the withdrawal 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, each worth 50 points, held on Fridays in your Discussion Sections and a comprehensive final exam worth 100 points.  You must drop the lowest section exam score.  Hence, there will only be 200 points attributed to the section exams and 100 points for the final exam for a total of 300 points.  


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

180-199 – D                < 180 – F

Attendance Policy:  Attendance is not required in lecture. However, attendance in the Discussion Sections is required.  See the Discussion Section specific addendum to this syllabus for details.    


Extra Credit Homework Assignments:  See the Discussion Section specific addendum to this syllabus for details.    


Section Quizzes – The section exams and the final exam will have a combination of short answer, true/false, multiple choice, and matching exercises.  Approximately 50 percent of the exam questions will come from the reading and 50 percent from lecture. 

There will be no make-up exams.  If you know you are going to miss an exam you can arrange to take it early.  If you miss a section 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 arrive late on the day of an exam that will reduce the amount of time you have available to take the exam.    





DATE                                             LECTURE TOPIC           READING ASSIGNMENT


Course - Introduction

Keeping the Republic – Chapters 1, 2, & 3

Clued into Politics –

Chapters 1 & 2


Political Ideology



No Class – MLK Holiday



Historical Timeline



Parts of the Constitution



Democracy Am. Style




Keeping the Republic – Chapters 4, 5, & 6

Clued into Politics –

Chapters 3, 4, & 5


Federalism (cont.)



Civil Liberties



Civil Rights




Keeping the Republic – Chapters 7, 8, & 9

Clued into Politics –

Chapters 6, 7, & 8


Congress (cont.)



Congress (cont.)



The Presidency



The Bureaucracy



The Bureaucracy (cont.)



No Class – Spring Recess



No Class – Spring Recess



The Courts

Keeping the Republic – Chapters 10, 11, & 12

Clued into Politics –

Chapters 9, 10, & 11


The Courts (cont.)



Public Opinion



Political Parties



Political Parties (cont.)



Political Parties (cont.)



Interest Groups

Keeping the Republic – Chapters 13, 14, & 15

Clued into Politics –

Chapters 12, 13, & 14


Interest Groups (cont.)






Elections (cont.)



Elections (cont.)



The Media



Class Review



Class Review



FINAL EXAM – Noon in Montgomery Auditorium




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  


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  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.