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POLS 2025 (formerly POLS 2010) Syllabus

Course Syllabus

POLS 2025 (formerly POLS 2010) - State and Local Government

3 Credit Hours

Course Information

Course Description:

This course covers the politics of and administration at the state and local level. Legislative, judicial, and administrative structures and processes are covered as well as several major issues and problems of states and local governments.

Course Outcomes:

Upon successful completion of this course, students will:

  • Understand the development of state and local governments over time 
  • Understand the major challenges facing state and local governments today 
  • Explore how they can become involved in state or local politics 
Prerequisites & Co-requisites:

None

Course Topics:
  • Course Topic #1 - State and Local Politics and Federalism
  • Course Topic #2 - Constitutions and Parties and Elections
  • Course Topic #3 - Legislatures and Governors
  • Course Topic #4 - Judges, Justice and Local Governments
  • Course Topic #5 - Policy Making: Education, Planning, Homeland Security, and Regulations
  • Course Topic #6 - Money in States and Local Governments
Specific Course Requirements:
  • Six Homework Assessments -- All Homework assessments are open book, not timed and come from the Readings, PowerPoints, and Videos, Each Homework assessment is 45 multiple choice questions.
  • Six Discussion topics
  • Three Tests -- All tests are closed book and timed. You may take each test twice, the higher grade counts

Textbooks, Supplementary Materials, Hardware and Software Requirements

Required Textbooks:

Please visit the Virtual Bookstore to obtain textbook information for this course. Move your cursor over the "Books" link in the navigation bar and select "Textbooks & Course Materials." Select your Program, Term, Department, and Course; then select "Submit."

Supplementary Materials:

No additional materials need to be purchased. All other materials—PowerPoint slides and videos—are provided on the Content page.

Hardware and Software Requirements:

Minimum hardware requirements can be found here.

Minimum software requirements can be found here.

Common applications you might need:

Web Resources:

Purdue OWL Online Writing Lab (for APA, MLA, or Chicago style)

The Writing Center Online Writer's Handbook

Student Resources:
  • Technical support information can be found on the TN eCampus Help Desk page.
  • Smarthinking virtual tutoring is available FREE of charge. to access Smarthinking, visit the course homepage and select Smarthinking under Course Resources. You also view sample sessions to see what Smarthinking offers and how it works.
  • Information on other student issues or concerns can be located on the TN eCampus Student Resources page.

Instructor Information

Please see "Instructor Information" in the Getting Started Module for instructor contact information, virtual office hours, and other communication information. You can expect to receive a response from the instructor within 24-48 hours unless notified of extenuating circumstances.

Participation, Assessments, & Grading

Grading Procedures:

There are three tests in this class. Each test is online, closed book, no notes, no websites, just you and your brain. Each test is 50 multiple choice questions that have been pulled from the previous two Homework assessments. You get 50 minutes for each test. You may take each test TWICE during the same available range of due dates (See Due Dates page under Getting Started), and the highest grade is counted. 

 If you think you need more time, you may take the exam at a Testing Center with a Proctor there to assure than no books, notes, or internet sources are used. If a proctor is used, then you may have double time. YOU must arrange this with the Testing Center.

Test Proctoring is OPTIONAL. If you wish to take the exam on the timer, then no proctor is needed. If you wish double time, then you must have a proctor to assure no notes or books are used. 

When taking the tests, remember to SAVE EACH answer to each question in case your computer crashes or loses internet connectivity.   Students may reboot their computers or wait for internet connectivity to access the test again, and D2L will allow students to continue taking the test using the time left and the question answers they have saved.

The Homework assessment/quizzes and the Tests will be automatically graded. Each Discussion will be graded within two week days of the due date ending. Grades will be visible under the Grades tool, found under the Evaluation navigation link.

Grading of Discussions: 

In addition to the introductions thread, there is a Discussion Thread associated with each of the six homework assessments, and these are open for the entire period the Homework Assessment is active. 

Each Discussion will be graded separately. A total of 25 course points may be earned for each.

With six 25 point Discussions, the Discussions total 150 of the total 1,000 possible course points. They are thus an integral part of the course and you need to be an active participant in the Discussions throughout the semester.

The discussion grades will be based on the number of days you participate on each Discussion, the number of substantive posts made, and the number of posts from other students that you read. Thus, the grading criteria are:

  • ‘A’ grades on discussions range from 23-25 points. To earn an ‘A’ you need to make five or more paragraph length posts on at least four different days, and read at least 3/4 of all posts.
  • ‘B’ grades on discussions range from 20-22 points. To earn a ‘B’ you need to make three or four paragraph length posts on at least three different days, and read at least 3/4 of all posts.
  • ‘C’ grades on discussions range from 18-19 points. To earn a ‘C’ you need to make two paragraph length posts on different days, and read at least ½ of all posts.
  • ‘D’ grades on discussions ranges from 15-17 points. To earn a “D” you need to make one paragraph length post, or several posts on only one day, and read at least ½ of all posts.
  • ‘F’ grades on discussions range from 0-16 points. To earn an ‘F’ you need to do less than the criteria outlined for a ‘D.’

NOTE 1: For grading purposes, substantive comments count. Comments that just say "me too," or "good post," or "I agree," and so on are pleasant and civil, to be sure, but they do not count for grading.

NOTE 2: I see the discussions as an opportunity for students to interact and share ideas, and so I try very hard to take a backseat. I read all the comments and if someone is rude or inappropriate I will intervene, and if there is a factual matter where people are lost, I will post. Otherwise, though, I try to be quiet and allow it to be a student forum.

Grading Scale:
Point RangeAssigned Grade
  900 - 1000 points  A
  800 - 899 points  B
  700 - 799 points  C
  600 - 699 points  D
  under 600 points  F

Graded Items

DescriptionPoints
  6 Homework Assessments @ 90 points each  540
  6 Discussions @ 25 points each  150
  3 Tests @ 100 points each  300
  1 Intro Discussion Post  10
  Total Points  1000

 

Assignments and Projects:

Read the assigned chapters, watch the PowerPoint(s) and the video for each Module, then work on the Homework assessment. Each Homework assessment can be opened and worked on over several days. Just remember to save each answer as you do it, and then remember to submit the finished work for grading when you are done. As you are doing the reading and watching the PowerPoints and video, be commenting in that Module's discussion. Post early and often in each module topic.

Module 1: State and Local Politics, and Federalism

  • Read chapters 1 and 2 in the textbook.
  • These first two chapters of the textbook have been scanned into Course Content so you can get started while waiting to receive your book.
  • Watch PowerPoints 1 and 2,
  • Watch Videos Module 1: TedTalk "Antidote to Apathy" and "Quick Study of Federalism."
  • Comment early and often in the Module 1 Discussion. See the section in the syllabus below on Participation, Assessment, and Grading for detailed information on how Discussions are graded. 
  • Do the Homework assessment 1: State and Local Politics and Federalism.
  • This Module must be done between due dates stated in the Due Dates page under Course Content and the Getting Started Module. (you have extra time for this Module to allow people to add late and others to get their textbook).

Module 2: State Constitutions, and Parties and Elections in the States

  • Read chapters 3 and 4 in the textbook,
  • Watch PowerPoints 3 and 4,
  • Watch Videos Module 2: "Levinson on State Constitutions", and "Voter Ids and Voting."
  • Comment early and often in the Module 2 Discussion. See the section in the syllabus below on Participation, Assessment, and Grading for detailed information on how Discussions are graded. 
  • Do the Homework assessment 2: State Constitutions and Parties and Elections in the States. This Module must be done must be done between due dates stated in the Due Dates page under Course Content and the Getting Started Module. You have a full week to do this Module.

Test 1

  • Covers material in Module 1 and Module 2.  
  • Test 1 must be taken between due dates stated in Due Dates link in Course Content. You may take the test two times and the higher grade will count, but all retakes must be done within the allotted date range. See the “Due Dates” page for the block of days within which the exam must be completed.

Module 3: State Legislatures and Governors

  • Read chapters 5 and 6 in the textbook,
  • Watch PowerPoints 5 and 6,
  • Watch Videos Module 3: "How it Happens Lobbyists", and "How it Happens Legislative Districts", and "Problems of First Past the Post Voting."
  • Comment early and often in the Module 3 Discussion. See the section in the syllabus below on Participation, Assessment, and Grading for detailed information on how Discussions are graded. 
  • Do the Homework assessment 3: State Legislatures and Governors. This Module must be done between due dates stated in the Due Dates page under Course Content and the Getting Started Module.  You have a full week to do this Module.

Module 4: Judges and Justice in the States, and Local Governments

  • Read chapters 7 and 8 in the textbook,
  • Watch PowerPoints 7 and 8,
  • Watch Videos Module 4: "State Courts", and "Driven to Decline: Interstates, Suburbs, Urban Decay."
  • Comment early and often in the Module 4 Discussion. See the section in the syllabus below on Participation, Assessment, and Grading for detailed information on how Discussions are graded. 
  • Do the Homework assessment 4: Judges and Justice in States, and Local Governments. This Module must be done between due dates stated in the Due Dates page under Course Content and the Getting Started Module. You have a full week plus one day to do this Module.

Test 2 

  • Covers material in Module 3 and Module 4.  
  • Test 2 must be taken between due dates stated in Due Dates link in Course Content. You may take the test two times and the higher grade will count, but all retakes must be done within the allotted date range. See the “Due Dates” page for the block of days within which the exam must be completed.

Module 5: Making State and Local Policy

  • Read chapter 9 in the textbook,
  • Watch PowerPoints 9,
  • Watch Videos Module 5: "Charter Schools", and "New Urbanism."
  • Comment early and often in the Module 5 Discussion. See the section in the syllabus below on Participation, Assessment, and Grading for detailed information on how Discussions are graded. 
  • Do the Homework assessment 5: Making State and Local Policy. This Module must be done between due dates stated in the Due Dates page under Course Content and the Getting Started Module. You have a full week to do this Module.

Module 6: Money in States and Local Government

  • Read chapter 10in the textbook,
  • Watch PowerPoint 10,
  • Watch Videos Module 6: "State Budgets and Spending", and "State Taxes and Revenue."
  • Comment early and often in the Module 6 Discussion. See the section in the syllabus below on Participation, Assessment, and Grading for detailed information on how Discussions are graded. 
  • Do the Homework assessment 6: Money in State and Local Governments. This Module must be done between due dates stated in the Due Dates page under Course Content and the Getting Started Module. ou have a full week to do this Module.

Test 3. Covers material in Module 5 and Module 6

Test 3 must be taken between due dates stated in Due Dates link Course Content. You may take the test two times and the higher grade will count, but all retakes must be done within the allotted date range. See the “Due Dates” page for the block of days within which the exam must be completed.

Class Participation:

The short answer to this is that you should participate EARLY and OFTEN. See Grading of Discussions below for specifics.

Each Homework Assessment has a Discussion Board Thread that accompanies it, where everyone in the class can discuss the issues and concepts raised in the text reading and ancillary materials. The goal is to generate an actual discussion-- actual back and forth among one another-- and thus you need to go into the Discussion Thread every day or two, read other people's comments, and join in. 

If you only log into the discussion thread at the end of the week or so period, even if you make a number of posts at that point, you are not holding up your end of the discussion-- you are merely tacking things onto the end of what others have been doing over the previous week, and you will necessarily get a low discussion grade. Just as with an on campus course, you are expected to be in the course and doing something every few days, so only joining the discussion board every eight or nine days just before a thread closes does not meet the requirement.

Late Policy:

Due dates are important. Please do the assigned Homework assessments and Tests during the set date range. Only under extreme and verified circumstances will due dates be extended.

Course Ground Rules

The following two statements (1., 2.) were derived from the TBR System-wide Student Rules document, released January 2012:

RULES OF THE TENNESSEE BOARD OF REGENTS STATE UNIVERSITY AND COMMUNITY COLLEGE SYSTEM OF TENNESSEE SYSTEMWIDE STUDENT RULES CHAPTER 0240-02-03 STUDENT CONDUCT AND DISCIPLINARY SANCTIONS

Read the document in its entirety here.

1. Standards of Conduct:

  • Students are required to adhere to the same professional, legal and ethical standards of conduct online as on campus. In addition, students should conform to generally accepted standards of "netiquette" while sending e-mail, posting comments to the discussion board, and while participating in other means of communicating online. Specifically, students should refrain from inappropriate and/or offensive language, comments and actions.

2. Review the TN eCampus Academic Integrity/Academic Honesty Policy:

  • In their academic activities, students are expected to maintain high standards of honesty and integrity. Academic dishonesty is prohibited.

Such conduct includes, but is not limited to:

  • an attempt by one or more students to use unauthorized information in the taking of an exam
  • to submit as one's own work, themes, reports, drawings, laboratory notes, computer programs, or other products prepared by another person,
  • or to knowingly assist another student in obtaining or using unauthorized materials.

Plagiarism, cheating, and other forms of academic dishonesty are prohibited.

Students guilty of academic misconduct, either directly or indirectly through participation or assistance, are subject to disciplinary action through the regular procedures of the student’s home institution.  Refer to the student handbook provided by your home institution to review the student conduct policy.

In addition to other possible disciplinary sanctions that may be imposed, the instructor has the authority to assign an "F" or zero for an activity or to assign an "F" for the course.

Other Course Rules:

Students are expected to:

  • Participate in all aspects of the course
  • Communicate with other students
  • Learn how to navigate in Brightspace
  • Keep abreast of course announcements
  • Use the assigned course management (Brightspace) email address rather than a personal email address
  • Address technical problems immediately:
  • Observe course netiquette at all times.

Guidelines for Communications

Email:

  • Always include a subject line.
  • Remember without facial expressions some comments may be taken the wrong way. Be careful in wording your emails. Use of emoticons might be helpful in some cases.
  • Use standard fonts.
  • Do not send large attachments without permission.
  • Special formatting such as centering, audio messages, tables, html, etc. should be avoided unless necessary to complete an assignment or other communication.
  • Respect the privacy of other class members

Discussions:

  • Review the discussion threads thoroughly before entering the discussion. Be a lurker then a discussant.
  • Try to maintain threads by using the "Reply" button rather starting a new topic.
  • Do not make insulting or inflammatory statements to other members of the discussion group. Be respectful of other’s ideas.
  • Be patient and read the comments of other group members thoroughly before entering your remarks.
  • Be cooperative with group leaders in completing assigned tasks.
  • Be positive and constructive in group discussions.
  • Respond in a thoughtful and timely manner.

Library

The Tennessee Virtual Library is available to all students enrolled in TN eCampus programs and courses. Links to library materials (such as electronic journals, databases, interlibrary loans, digital reserves, dictionaries, encyclopedias, maps, and librarian support) and Internet resources needed by learners to complete online assignments and as background reading will be included within the course modules. To access the Virtual Library, go to the course homepage and select the Virtual Library link under Course Resources.

Students with Disabilities

Qualified students with disabilities will be provided reasonable and necessary academic accommodations if determined eligible by the appropriate disability services staff at their home institution. Prior to granting disability accommodations in this course, the instructor must receive written verification of a student's eligibility for specific accommodations from the disability services staff at the home institution. It is the student's responsibility to initiate contact with their home institution's disability services staff and to follow the established procedures for having the accommodation notice sent to the instructor.

Syllabus Changes

The instructor reserves the right to make changes as necessary to this syllabus. If changes are necessitated during the term of the course, the instructor will immediately notify students of such changes both by individual email communication and posting both notification and nature of change(s) on the course bulletin board.

Disclaimer

The information contained in this syllabus is for general information purposes only. While we endeavor to keep this information up-to-date and accurate, there may be some discrepancies between this syllabus and the one found in your online course. The syllabus of record is the one found in your online course. Please make sure you read the syllabus in your course at the beginning of the semester. Questions regarding course content should be directed to your instructor.


Last Revised on July 26, 2018