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Course Handout - GOV 117-10T


GOV 117-10T,   Introduction to American Government, Spring 2012

Instructor:   Mr. Larry Sefren,  Phone: (618) 893-2095,  Email:

Course Description:  This course examines the governing process and institutions of the United States of America.  The course is intended to prepare students to continue their studies in a full spectrum of social science curricula.  Students successfully completing this class will develop a prospective of American governance that is applicable to their daily lives.

Prerequisite:  None.

Credit Hours:  Three (3) semester hours.

Textbook and Course Materials:

            Telecourse Guide:  Voices in Democracy; Lynch, Eileen; Camp-Keith, Linda; Lee, Sue; Harcourt College Publishers; 3rd ed., 2005.

            Textbook:  Democracy Under Pressure; Cummings, Milton C. & Wise, David; Harcourt Brace College Publishers; 10th ed., 2005.

            DVDs:  Voices in Democracy;  Three (3) DVDs, twenty-six 30 minute lessons, Dallas TeleLearning, 2005.

            Student Handbook:  Student Handbook, GOV 0117-10, Fall 2011.

            Instructor Website:

Course Objectives:

  • Students will develop a practical understanding of the institutions of American government and politics.
  • Students will identify and discuss the origins of key documents and how the systems they establish affect the nation.
  • Students will understand the processes and institutions, which combine to form the American system of government and politics.
  • Students will develop an understanding of the idea of civil liberties paying particular attention to how freedoms are granted and limited by the same foundational documents and many subsequent laws.
  • Students will define the relationships between the three branches of government as

well as the composition and interworking of the bureaucracy.

Student Responsibilities:  It is the student’s responsibility to complete all assignments to include readings, DVDs, quizzes, mid-term and final examinations by the U.S.mail post mark due dates established on the attached syllabus. 

Initial Student Contact:  It is the student’s responsibility to establish initial email contact with the instructor @ no later than the first week of the semester, Friday, August 19th. 

Email using your Shawnee Community College (SCC) student email address.  Your SCC account will be used for all course correspondence with the instructor.  Do not use email addresses i.e. hotmail, yahoo, etc.  Initial email contact information will include: 

1.  Student name.

2.  Student ID number.

3.  Student contact phone number.

4.  Student home mailing address at which to receive returned scored quizzes and tests.   

Instructor Responsibilities:  It is the instructor’s responsibility to facilitate learning and assist students to understand course topics and materials.  I can be contacted by email, U.S. mail and office telephone as posted on this syllabus.  Face to face meetings can be coordinated at the student’s request.  You will find that I am an accessible and enthusiastic instructor. 

Student Instructor Communications:    Students should contact the instructor in a timely manner to discuss questions or concerns before they become an issue.  Email is the preferred method of contact as it provides speed and a record of communication. 

Quizzes and examinations are to be submitted by students to the instructor by U.S. mail with address labels provide in the student course materials unless other advance coordination is made.  Graded quizzes and examinations will be returned to students by U.S. mail.


Lessons:  There are twenty-six (26) lessons outlined in the Telecourse Guide for Voices in Democracy.  Each course lesson requires students to: view chapters on the DVDs Voices in Democracy, read the corresponding chapters in the textbook Democracy Under Pressure, and complete practice multiple choice questions and review the essay questions in the Telecourse Guide for Voices in Democracy. 

NOTE:  Ensure that you keep up with the schedule or work ahead to complete course lessons. 

Assignment Point Values:

200 points – Quizzes (four quizzes worth 50 points each)

100 points – Mid-term Paper

100 points – Final Examination

400 points – Total points

Quizzes:  There are four quizzes consisting of 50-51 questions each.  Quizzes and computer answer cards are included in the student packet. Use a #2 lead pencil and erase completely any changed answers.  There is only one correct response for each multiple choice question.  Quizzes must be postmarked by the due date published on the course syllabus.  Two points will be subtracted from the score for each day a quiz is postmarked late. 

Mid-Term Examination/Paper:  The mid-term paper will be a minimum of 750 and maximum of 900 words, typed, double-spaced and 12 pt font.  Paper should be in Modern Language Association (MLA) format.  The paper heading will be in accordance with MLA guidelines.  No cover page is required.  Any quotes or “cut and paste” from other sources that are used in the paper must have quotation marks and have proper in-paper citations.   All references used in the mid-term paper must be cited on the “Works Cited” page. 

Paper topic:  Compare the political platforms of Democrat, Republican and one minority national political party of your choice (Libertarian, Reform, Tea Party, etc.).  Identify and briefly discuss a minimum of three to maximum of five published party policy positions on major domestic and/or foreign policy issues such as: the role of government, healthcare, education, social security, immigration, energy, trade, defense, global warming, etc.  Discuss published party policy and not personal opinion.  You may use but are not limited to the following websites to find positions on major issues:

            Democratic Party

            Republican Party or

            Libertarian Party

            Reform Party    

            Tea Party         

Online Resources:  See my website for assistance with writing your mid-term paper for political party websites and MLA formatting websites @

Due Date:  The mid-term paper due date is published on the course syllabus. Two points will be subtracted from the score for each day the paper is postmarked late.  A late paper with points deducted is greatly preferred to no paper, and a zero for the assignment.

Final Examination:  Open book with multiple choice questions.  Use a computer answer card and a #2 lead pencil. There is only one correct response for each multiple choice question.  Erase completely any changed answers. 

The Final Examination answer card must be postmarked by Monday, December 12th, 2011.  Two points will be subtracted from the score for each day the examination is late.  The final examination answer card will not be accepted if received after Thursday, December 15th, 2011, the last day of final examinations. 

Academic Dishonesty and Plagiarism:  Dishonesty and plagiarism are unacceptable.  All assignments are to be completed individually unless otherwise coordinated with and approved by the instructor. Any quotes or “cut and paste” entries used in the mid-term paper must have quotation marks and have proper in-paper citations.   All references must be cited on the “Works Cited” page.  Violations will be processed in accordance with SCC Student Handbook. 

Submission of Course Work:  Quiz answer cards, mid-term paper, final examination and course critique are to be placed in envelopes and mailed by U.S. mail by due dates published.

Student Quiz and Examinations Should Include:

            Student’s Full name

            Student identification number

            Course Prefix:  GOV 117-10

            Test:  Quiz #1, #2, #3 or #4; mid-term examination; or final examination

Instructor Mailing Address:

            Mr. Larry Sefren

            GOV 117-10T

            1205 Skyline Drive

            Cobden, Illinois  62920

Note:  If you have not contacted the instructor with your personal contact information by the Quiz #1 due date, or if Quiz #1 has not been received by the mid-term paper due date, you may be dropped from the class for non-attendance.  

Posting of Assignment Scores and Grades:   Scores will be sent out by the instructor by email.  I will be working during the Fall semester to establish a course “Moodle” Internet site accessible from the Shawnee Community College homepage to post student scores.

Course Critique:  A course critique is included in the student packet.  Students should complete the course critique and mail with the final examination answer card.

Final Course Grade:   Grades will be submitted by the instructor to Shawnee Community College and posted by email on Friday, December 16th, 2011, the last day of Fall semester.






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