POLSC 110: American Government

Course Description

English background of American institutions, colonial systems of government, the Constitution, the evolution and adoption of government to the changing role of the United States as an industrialized member of the world of nations and the changing federal/state relations.

Course Learning Outcomes

In this course, we will:

  1. Analyze the importance of politics in American life.
  2. Identify the key elements of the U.S. Constitution such as, separation of powers, limited powers, checks and balances, representation, Federalism, etc.
  3. Detail the roles, responsibilities and powers of the Legislative, Executive and Judicial branches of the U.S. government.
  4. Discuss and describe how civil rights and civil liberties have been historically developed and implemented.
  5. Identify power as the central concept in political science.
  6. Realize the saliency of political participation, citizenship, and civil discourse within the United States of America's system of government.
  7. Analyze current events using the key concepts of the United States of America's government.
  8. Describe key theoretical concepts in political science in essay format.
  9. Critically evaluate the impact that money, interest groups, political parties, citizens, and the media have on the United States of America's system of governance.
  10. Evaluate and identify the policy making process on the domestic and international levels.
  11. Compare and contrast the United States of America's system of government with other nations.
  12. Make effective political arguments in oral and written form.

Course Schedule

This course has been designed to follow a weekly schedule in which students complete one lesson per week. You are expected to complete all of the learning activities for each lesson in the order they are listed. Also, you should complete each lesson in order and not skip ahead without finishing a lesson. For example, complete all the learning activities in Lesson 01 before beginning any learning activities in Lesson 02. The instructor may shift the order of completion for some assignments, and may even extend the deadlines on a few assignments if circumstances warrant it for the whole class. However, the ending time for most assignments is at 11:00 PM (Mountain Time) each week. If you are in a different time zone you will need to adjust.

Due dates and times for all assignments may be found by accessing the Calendar tool in I-Learn. Also, all activity directions will have information on when the assignment or assessment opens and when it closes (due date and time). These due dates and times listed in the activity directions are based on Mountain Time in the United States of America, and are set up to be aligned with the due dates and times of students on campus at BYU-Idaho. If you are in a different time zone, you may see some adjustments for your own time zone in the I-Learn Calendar. If you have any questions about when an assignment is due, you should contact your instructor.

The deans of the colleges at BYU-Idaho have determined that the average amount of study time that students will put in per week per credit is 3 to 4 hours. So, for a 3-credit class, the deans expect students to spend on average between 9 and 12 hours of total study time. For this course, on average, it will take students approximately 9 hours of study time to complete all the learning activities for each lesson. This is the amount of time that you should expect to put into this class each week if you want to get a passing (C) grade. If you want a higher grade, you may need to put in more study time, maybe even beyond 12 hours per week. Students working towards an A or B grade will usually need to put in more study time than 9 hours a week. Consequently, in order to keep up with the assignments and learn the most from this class, you should make sure you schedule about 1 to 2 hours a day to study for this class. Also, be aware that with this course, there is no "time off" for holidays that might occur during the week. Consequently, you should make sure to arrange your study schedule so that any holiday activities do not keep you from completing learning activities by the posted due dates and times.

Required Materials

You must purchase the following required textbook: We the People, 10th Essentials Edition

Since this is an online course, it is your responsibility to arrange to use a computer with internet access. (The higher speed you have for your internet access, the easier the course will be for you to complete.) It is also your responsibility to make sure you have the word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation software required to complete your assignments. In order to participate in online meetings with the instructor and your classmates, you are required to have a microphone for your computer and a set of earphones that will work with your computer. You will use the microphone and earphones to talk with others in a variety of learning activities in this course. Directions for setting up your microphone and earphones to work with the online meeting tool will be provided in a learning activity later on in the Course Introduction lesson.

Compare prices for your textbooks through the University Store Price Comparison site. They will show you all of the options from the University Store plus several online options to help you find the best price.


Grades will be based on a weighted percentage of the total number of points students may earn from major exams, assignments, quizzes, and completion of any other learning activities assigned by the instructor. You can find information in your I-Learn gradebook on the different weighted grading categories and their percentages. You may check your progress in the course at any time by accessing the gradebook.

In assigning final grades for this course, the instructor will use the BYU-Idaho Standard Grade Definition criteria listed below.

A: The grade of "A" represents outstanding understanding, application, and integration of subject material and extensive evidence of original thinking, skillful use of concepts, and ability to analyze and solve complex problems. Demonstrates diligent application of Learning Model principles, including initiative in serving other students.

B: The grade of "B" presents considerable/significant understanding, application, and incorporation of the material, which would prepare a student to be successful in next level courses, graduate school, or employment. The student participates in the Learning Model as applied in the course.

C: The grade of "C" represents sufficient understanding of subject matter. The student demonstrates minimal initiative to be prepared for class. Sequenced courses could be attempted, but mastering new materials might prove challenging. The student participates marginally in the Learning Model.

D: The grade of "D" represents poor performance and initiative to learn, understand, and apply course materials. Retaking a course or remediation may be necessary to prepare for additional instruction in this subject matter.

F: The grade of "F" represents failure in the course.

Grading Scale:

A = 100% - 93%

A- = 92% - 90%

B+ = 89% - 87%

B = 86% - 83%

B- = 82% - 80%

C+ = 79% - 77%

C = 76% - 73%

C- = 72% - 70%

D+ = 69% - 67%

D = 66% - 63%

D- = 62% - 60%

F = 59% and lower

Late Work Policy

In this class each student has three late passes. That means you can turn in late up to three assignments without a penalty for the assignment being late. I use the late pass system so I do not have to judge between emergencies. I will let you decide when you need them. When you want to use a late pass, send me an email with the assignment attached and a note stating that you want to use a late pass. The last day to turn in assignments is the last day of the semester. Late passes cannot be used on exams.

Late pass examples:

Student A: I spaced the assignment, can I turn it in late?

Instructor: Yes with a late pass.

Student B: My dog died. Can I have an extension on my assignment?

Instructor: Yes with a late pass.

Student C: I am getting married and I don't think I will have time to complete all of my assignments. What should I do?

Instructor: Complete as much as you can ahead of time and use your late passes for what you don't get to.

Student D: I have the flu and I missed several assignments.

Instructor: I hope you are feeling better. If you have late passes left, you can use them to turn in your missing work. :)

Student E: I worked really hard on my assignment and tried to turn it in on i-Learn while it still was 10:00 pm but I was locked out. Can I turn in the assignment now?

Instructor: The deadline in this class is 10:00:00 pm MST. One second past the deadline is still late. In the future please turn in your work earlier in case you have trouble submitting your work. You can use a late pass. :)

Student "F": I missed the exam. Can I use a late pass?

Instructor: No. If you have a problem with an exam before the exam closes, call me immediately. Do not email or wait till the exam closes.

Course Policies

You should read the following course policies and make sure that you understand what these policies mean to you regarding your interactions with the instructor and other students in this course. If you have questions about any of these policies, you should contact your instructor immediately.

Personal Honor In this class, our interactions with each other should be guided at all times by the following principles of personal honor. Principles of Personal Honor - "True at all Times"

Students with Disabilities

BYU-Idaho is committed to providing a working and learning atmosphere which reasonably accommodates qualified persons with disabilities. If you have any disability which may impair your ability to complete this course successfully, please contact the Services for Students with Disabilities Office by phone at 208-496-4283 or via email at taylorr@byui.edu. Reasonable academic accommodations are reviewed for all students who have qualified documented disabilities. Services are coordinated with the student and instructor by this office. If you need assistance or feel you have been unlawfully discriminated on the basis of disability, you may seek resolution through established policy and procedures. Contact the Human Resources Office at 208-496-1700 or via email at humanresources@byui.edu.

Sexual Harassment

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits sex discrimination against any participant in an educational program which receives federal funds, including federal loans and grants. Title IX also covers student-to-student sexual harassment. If you encounter unlawful sexual harassment or gender-based discrimination, please contact the Human Resources Office at 208-496-1700 or via email at humanresources@byui.edu.