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North Idaho College • Coeur d'Alene • Social & Behavioral Sciences • Political Science

American National Government POLS-101

  • Fall 2012
  • Sections 1, 2, 3, 4
  • 3.0 Credits
  • 08/27/2012 to 12/20/2012
  • Modified 08/24/2012

Contact Information

Instructor: Dr. Richard Tanksley

Office Hours -  Mon 12:00-2:15, Tue 12-12:45, Wed 9:45-10:15 & Wed 12:00-2:30. Additional office hours by appointment.

Meeting Times

Section 01, Mon. 10:30 – 11:45 + Internet, Location LKH 242

Section 02, Mon. 2:30-3:45 + Internet, Location STR 102

Section 03, Wed. 10:30-11:45 + Internet, Location LKH242

Section 04, Tue. 1:00-2:15 + Internet, Location STR 102


Political Science 101 is the study of the foundation of the United States Government and the evolution of constitutional principles. Special attention is given to the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, the three branches of national government, powers and limits of national government, civil rights, political parties, campaigns, political participation, interest groups, media, public opinion and select public policies. This is an essential course for student majoring in political science, pre-law, or law enforcement. It fulfills a social science requirement for A.A. and A.S. degrees. Lecture: 3 hours per week


The textbook required for this course is The Challenge of Democracy (2013, 3rd edition), by Janda, Berry, Goldman & Hula. Cengage Advantage, Boston. ISBN 9781111832582

You will also be required to access articles from the internet and library as needed.  


POLS 101 is a course designed to provide students with the basic knowledge of how the United States government is organized and how it functions. Students are expected to learn about the institutions of government and how the Constitution, citizens, interest groups and the media all influence the operation of government. After taking this course students will:


·         Learn the basics of the government institutions and their powers.  

·         Be able to identify, understand and apply political science concepts and theories to historical and contemporary issues in American government and politics.

·         Obtain a working knowledge about the evolution and functioning of the American political system.

·         Have a basic understanding of how the U.S. government was formed and the documents and political philosophy that continues to influence our democracy.

·         Gain an understanding of the role that the media, interest groups, political parties, legal action and voters play in influencing the federal government.

·         Be expected to enhance their writing, presentation and research skills.

·         Gain an understanding of the ethical and moral issues that are involved in government service and citizenship

·         Have a broader understanding of the struggle for human rights by contemporary and historical groups that face discrimination and antipathy.


The assessment of these outcomes will include exams, discussion, writing assignments and class participation.   


Assessments (Student Evaluation Procedures)

Students will be assessed through exams, assignments and participation according to the following weights and schedule. This assumes that you also meet the requirements of the proficiency exam.

Grading                              % of grade                  # of points

Exam 1                                   18                                180

Exam 2                                   18                                180

Exam 3                                   18                                180

Proficiency Exam                  10                                100

Assignments/Quizzes           26                                260

Class Participation               10                                100

Total grade                          100%                           1000

Exams are designed to assess how well each student is learning the material. The type of exam will vary and may include multiple choice, short answer and essay questions.

A Proficiency Exam is given to insure that you learn and retain key fundamentals in American Government. The exam consists of one basic tenet from each chapter and you will be given the questions in advance. You can take this proficiency test as many times as necessary. You will not pass this course without achieving a score of at least 90 percent on this proficiency exam.  

Assignments/Quizzes will be given at various times during the course. Typically, students will be required to summarize a peer-reviewed journal article and complete internet based research or discussion. Specific instructions will be given in advance for all assignments. Any use of outside sources must include citations.  

Class participation requires students to discuss current events in American government, analyze text and be involved in class assignments. Grading will be based primarily upon attendance and upon the depth of student involvement. Absence from class or online assignments will influence this grade.

The Grading scale for the entire course:         

92 to 100% =  A         90 to 91.9% = A-    

88 to 89.9% = B+       82 to 87.9% = B                      80 to 81.9% = B-

78 to 79.9% = C+       72 to 77.9% = C                      70 to 71.9% = C-

68 to 59.9% = D+       62 to 67.9% = D                      60 to 61.9% = D-

Below 60 = Fail

Course Policies

Attendance and Classroom Conduct


  • It is your responsibility to attend classes. Class will start on time and you will be assessed two absences if you leave early without permission or arrive late to class. I reserve to right to keep you from entering class if you are frequently tardy. You do not have to notify me if you are absent unless you are presenting something or know you are going to miss an exam. I do not initiate instructor withdrawals. Thus, if you do not attend, you are responsible for withdrawing or a grade of F will result.
  • Under no circumstances should you come to class if you are experiencing any flu-like symptoms, have a fever or are coughing excessively.
  • Make-up policy: Students are allowed to make up graded work or tests if an absence is due to participation in extra-curricular, school-sponsored activities. A note or schedule from school authorities should be provided. Late assignments without good cause will result in a 5% grade reduction per week. An excessive amount of late assignments will not be accepted and a grade of zero for those assignments will be recorded.  
  • If you miss a single exam, arrangements to retake the exam should be made as soon as possible. Except for extreme circumstances, any exam not made up within a week will be recorded as a zero. If you miss a second exam, a documented reason must be provided. Make-up exams are given entirely at my discretion and may be formatted differently.

Classroom Conduct:

Please pay attention during class and avoid distracting others. I do not allow any electronics to be used during class, including cell phones or computers without permission. Thus, there should be no texting, web surfing, reading the newspaper or side conversations during class.

In addition to the division's policies on academic dishonesty, there is no excuse for plagiarism. Copying and pasting or using other's intellectual ideas in any manner will result in a grade of Fail and college disciplinary action. If you use someone else's exact words, you need quotation marks and a citation. If you use another's thoughts you need a citation no matter how small the assignment is.


Course Schedule:  Please note that this schedule may be modified as necessary. Also, please read each chapter PRIOR to the class period that it is discussed. This will allow for more questions and student participation during class. Some chapters will be discussed more in class, and some may require more time from the Angel (online) lessons.

Chapter 1   Dilemmas of Democracy

Chapter 2   The Constitution

Chapter 3   Federalism

Chapter 4   Public Opinion

TEST 1   (Mon classes Oct 1)  (Tue class Sept 25)  (Wed class Sept 26)

Chapter 5   Participation and Voting

Chapter 6   Political Parties, Campaigns and Elections

Chapter 7   Interest Groups

Chapter 8   Congress

Chapter 9   The Presidency

TEST 2    (Mon classes Nov 5)  (Tue class Nov 6)  (Wed class Nov 7)

Chapter 10  The Bureaucracy

Chapter 11  The Courts

Chapter 12  Order and Civil Liberties

Chapter 13  Equality and Civil Rights

Chapter 14  Policymaking and the Budget

TEST 3    Finals Week Dec. 17-20 Schedule not yet announced

Additional Items

Method of Course Delivery  - The Instructional Methods of this course will consist of lectures, discussion, student presentations, learning exercises, and independent study (readings). This is a hybrid course, meaning that part of the traditional classroom is substituted by internet learning and exercises. You must access this course from "My NIC Courses" online on a regular basis.   

Academic Freedom - Student academic performance may be evaluated solely on an academic basis, not on opinions or conduct in matters unrelated to academic standards. I encourage everyone to express their own views and opinions while respecting others who may hold different views.

Instructor Comments - I congratulate you on your quest to learn more about our government and political system. May you have a rewarding and successful semester. If at anytime during the course I can be of individual assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.

The Constitution only gives people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself. - Benjamin Franklin

Division Policies

For a complete explanation of the North Idaho College Statement on Academic Honesty & Academic Integrity please ferfer to Policy 5.06 & Procedure 5.06.01: 

Academic Dishonesty
Violations of academic integrity involve using or attempting to use any method that enables an individual to misrepresent the quality or integrity of his or her work at North Idaho College. These violations include the following:

Cheating: using or attempting to use unauthorized materials, information, or study in any academic exercise.
Fabrication: falsifying or inventing any information or citation in an academic exercise.
Plagiarism: knowingly representing the words or ideas of another as one’s own in an academic exercise.
Violation of Intellectual Property: stealing, altering, or destroying the academic work of other members of the community or the educational resources,materials, or official documents of the college. Facilitating Academic Dishonesty: knowingly helping another to attempt to violate any provisions of this policy.

Student Responsibility
As outlined in the Student Code of Conduct, all North Idaho College students have both rights and responsibilities: Please access www.nic.ferpa.StudentCode/index.htm for complete information that pertains to this subject.

North Idaho College, in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and Section 504/508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, provides both services and accommodations to students who meet the guidelines provided in these acts.  For a complete description, please see:

Please contact the North Idaho College Center for Educational Access in Seiter Hall, Room 100 for assistance.  Phone:  208-769-5947

To withdraw from all courses a student must obtain a college withdrawal form from the Registrar's Office, secure the signatures of those persons indicated on the form, and return the form to the Registrar's office. No student may withdraw from the college after the final date of withdrawal from courses except for compelling and extraordinary reasons. In such circumstances a student must petition the Admissions and Academic Standards Committee for late withdrawal from college using the college withdrawal form available in the Registrar's Office.


For complete information regarding student withdrawals, please see the North Idaho College Policy 5.04.01: 

Institutional Policies

Student Code of Conduct

The Student Code of Conduct applies to any student enrolled at North Idaho College.  This includes, but is not limited to, face-to-face classes and Internet classes.

Student Responsibilities

As students undertake to fulfill the obligations and duties outlined in this document, the college community of which they are a part undertakes to respect the basic freedoms of students. In recognition of students’ rights and dignity as members of the college, North Idaho College is committed to the principles found in the NIC Student Handbook.

Center for Educational Access/Disability Support Services

In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and Section 504/508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, North Idaho College provides accommodations to eligible students who experience barriers in the educational setting due to learning, emotional / mental, physical, visual, or hearing disabilities.  Instructors will provide accommodations to students only after having received a Letter of Accommodation from the Center for Educational Access. 

If a student would like to request accommodations, he or she must contact the Center for Educational Access so that a Letter of Accommodation may be sent to the instructor.  Students requesting accommodations must contact the Center for Educational Access at the beginning of each semester.


By registering at North Idaho College, you agree to provide payment by the due dates. You also understand that collection costs and legal fees will be added if the services of a collection agency are utilized.

If you are registered for a class and do not attend, you will still be liable for the tuition unless you drop the class.


Last day for students to withdraw from semester-length classes:

Instructor-Initiated Withdrawal: Instructors have the right to withdraw students for academic reasons up until the same date; in doing so, instructors must notify students through NIC e-mail within 48 hours of submitting documentation to the Registrar's office, and students have the right to appeal the instructor's decision. For more information, see the NIC Procedure:

Financial Aid Satisfactory Progress Policy: All withdrawals, whether for individual classes, total withdrawal from school, or instructor-initiated are not considered to be satisfactory progress for financial aid.  See the Financial Aid Satisfactory Progress Policy:

Additional withdrawal information:


An incomplete is assigned only if the student has been in attendance and has done satisfactory work to within three weeks of the end of the semester (or proportional length of time for a course of less than a semester in length).  Incompletes are issued only in cases of extenuating circumstances, such as severe illness or injury.  Incompletes are not issued in cases in which the student is simply unable to complete his/her work within the specified semester or session.  If a final grade of "I" is recorded, the instructor will indicate in writing to the Registrar what the student must do to make up the deficiency.  The instructor will indicate in the written statement what permanent grade should be entered if the Incomplete is not removed by the deadline.

All incomplete grades must be removed within six weeks after the first class day of the following term, excluding the summer session.  If the Incomplete is not removed by that date, the grade reverts to the grade indicated by the instructor's written statement authorizing the incomplete.

Discrimination and Harassment

North Idaho College has a zero tolerance policy for any acts of discrimination or harassment of any kind.  For more information, please see the NIC Student Handbook, Code of Conduct Article III and Article VIII. Compliance efforts with respect to these laws and regulations are the responsibility of each member of the campus community and are under the direction of the Dean of Students Office for Student Issues (2nd floor, Edminster Student Union Building, (208) 676-7156) and the Human Resources Office (Sherman Administration Building, (208) 769-3304) for employee issues.

Institutional Statement

DROP FOR NON-PAYMENT:  By registering at North Idaho College, you agree to provide payment by the due dates. You will be dropped from classes if payment is not received by  5 p.m. Pacific Time on the third day of the semester. Students on the waitlist will be given the option to register for classes after students are dropped for non-payment.

REMOVAL FROM CLASS FOR NON-ATTENDANCE:  Attendance is based on your participation in this class. Failure to attend may result in your being removed from this class and may result in your financial aid award being reduced. You are responsible for confirming the accuracy of your attendance record.