Online Education

Online Education Center


Summer 2016 Syllabus for POLI-D001.-64Z
POLI-D001.-64Z - James Nguyen
Introduction to American Government and Politics
Call Number: 40533
Term: Spring 2013
4 units
De Anza College Online Education Center • LC 107 • Phone: 408-864-8969 • FAX: 408-864-8245 •
Critical examination of the historical and contemporary struggle for the development of democratic political institutions in the United States at the state, local, and national levels. Particular emphasis given to the conflict between traditional elites versus historically disenfranchised social groups (women, people of color, and workers) in the conduct of U.S. political life.
Instructor Information: James Nguyen
Phone: (408)864-5551
Office Location: F21R (F2 Building next to ATC)
Office Hours: TWTh 9:15 -9:45 AM and by appointment
Welcome to Political Science 1! It is my pleasure and privilege to be your instructor this quarer. For many of you this will not be the first online course you have taken and you already know that taking a course in this way requires above-average self-discipline. I am pointing this out now because I do not want you to be disappointed with your performance in my class. With that said, it is a great time to study politics within the framework of our American government, and I’m excited for the discussions and interactions I’ll be having with you over the next several weeks. Feel free to contact me at any time if you have questions, I’m here to help you.

To Reach Me: the best way to contact me is via email ( Conversely, I do send out regular emails to students so make sure that the email address De Anza has for you is a working one and one that you check regularly. I am also teaching Poli 1 from 11:30-1:20 AM T/Th this spring, feel free to come to my class to visit me or to ask questions. You may sit in on the class if you’d like, space permitting.

For those on the Waitlist or who wish to add the class:

The class is already full, but I will take some additional students beyond those already registered. I have a limited number of add codes and will give them out to waitlisted students (only) who email me between 10 AM and 12 PM on Friday, April 5th.As additional spaces open up due to drops, I will give out a corresponding number of add codes to the next people in order of the waitlist. Only then, if space is available, will I give add codes to those not on my waitlist.

You cannot add the class until the first day of classes (April 8, 2013). Once you add the class, you will be able to see the course on the Catalyst page ( which has all of the assignments, lectures, and discussions. Please log in starting April 8th to review the course and the first assignments. I must warn you that it may take a day or two once you add via add code to gain access to the Catalyst course page.

For those NOT on the waitlist, email me and if I have any add codes left I will provide you with one, otherwise the class is full and I cannot accommodate you. I take pride in adding as many students as I can, but I can’t guarantee anyone on the waitlist or non-waitlisted folks spaces – my apologies in advance.

Upon entering the ‘virtual classroom’ the following guides - course materials (fully linked) are available:
• Introduction to the Course
• Syllabus
• Including Information About Exams and Quizzes
• Required Reading Schedule
• ’Tips’ for succeeding in the course
• Grade Scale
• Discussions (*Forums*)
• Private Communication with instructor (*internal eMail or regular or 'chat'*)
• more …
In the virtual classroom after logging in, each of the above are linked to additional resources for study and review.

How We Get Started:
1) Complete and read the online orientation on the De Anza Distance Learning website for the course.
2) Login to catalyst beginning April 8
3) Click on Link “How to Get Started” to find out more about the first steps you need to take in the course
4) Introductions: There will be a “getting to know one another” discussion forum where you are required to log in and responds with some information about yourself and is also an opportunity to ask questions about the course. This must be done by Thursday (April 11) at 11:59 PM or you may be dropped.


Reading Quizzes: You will take online quizzes for each chapter of the book. These are multiple choice, graded, and are due the week they are assigned. You will read about 1-2 chapters a week and take corresponding quizzes within that time frame. Most of my students tell me these are pretty straightforward if you’ve done the reading.

Two Exams, a Midterm and a Final: these will be essay examinations testing your ability to answer the questions posed about readings, assignments, activities, and discussions. There will not be any multiple choice questions. You will have three hours per exam to complete the exams. The midterm will be taken around week 6 and the final will be taken on the last day of classes. I will post a rubric and basic study guide before the exams are given.

Democracy in Action assignments: There will be four assignments that will require you to actively participate in democracy and turn in your findings/write-ups to me. They include writing a letter to the editor of a publication on a political topic, talking to three people about politics, balancing the California budget and an environmental action project. In some cases, this will require you to actually meet with other people (yes, I know this is an online course). The online part of it is that you are required to turn it in electronically the assignment by the deadlines I have posted on catalyst. About one every few weeks or so.

Participation: There will be regular discussions about the current class topics using discussion forums online. You MUST participate regularly and on a weekly basis (by posting new topics for discussion or adding thoughtful input to the on-going discussion) in order to receive a “C” (satisfactory) or perhaps “B” for discussion. I grade participation very hard, I must warn you. I have increased the amount that participation is worth and it is now worth 18% of your grade, or 180 points out of 1,000 for the course.

I look forward to seeing you online on the Catalyst course page!

Course Aims and Objectives:

There are four main learning objectives you should reach after taking PoliSci 1:

I. Understanding of Politics and American Government and current event debates:
A. how the major institutions in American society interact with the political system;
B. a historical context which shapes and influences the political system and larger society;
C. an understanding and appreciation of the rights and privileges granted by the U.S. Constitution; and
D. the role of power in U.S. politics: the inter-relationship between public, private institutions and constituencies; e.g. ethnic minorities, immigrants, gender, social class inequality, media, corporate domination, and formal interest groups.
E. The influence of our economic system on politics and government in our country.

II. Enhance your critical reading, thinking skills about politics in light of current events so that you will be able to differentiate between subjective opinion and empirical knowledge;
III. Students will be able to analyze opposing viewpoints and reach considered judgments in well-developed arguments and generally improve their writing.
IV. You will also learn how to become more engaged in political, community and civic life.

Textbooks: There are two textbooks for the course, both required and sold as a package in the bookstore:
Katznelson, Ira, Mark Kesselman, and Alan Draper. The Politics of Power: A Critical Introduction to American Government. 6th ed. W.W. Norton. Print.

Anagnoson, J. Theodore. Governing California in the Twenty-first Century: the Political Dynamics of the Golden State. New York: W.W. Norton and, 2013 4th Ed. Print.

I am not sure (but am checking with the bookstore) if they are available yet in the bookstore. I believe the package costs about $55. There should be some used books available. You won’t need the Governing California book until later in the quarter. You can also purchase them online and/or used to save some money.
Extra Credit
There will be extra credit assignments sprinkled throughout the course, mainly involving you doing something active in our democracy. Extra credit opportunities will be posted in the course page.

Additional Information
Class meetings: The course will be entirely online (although I will have optional in-person/phone office hours during the day) so there will be no class meetings face to face (despite what the Distance Learning website says).
The course will be offered and taken entirely on Catalyst (, which is an online course management system. You can begin accessing Catalyst starting on day one (April 8, 2013 if you are registered, after that if you are waitlisted and add via add code).
Technical requirements: You will need access to a computer and a decent high-speed connection. For the Democracy in Action assignments, you will also need access to a scanner (there are some on campus).
Grading Scale: (1000 total points possible)

1001 & over A+
930-1000 A
900-929 A-
870-899 B+
830-869 B
800-829 B-
770-799 C+
700-769 C
670-699 D+
630-669 D
600-629 D-
0-599 F
Final: 200 points
Midterm: 200
Reading Quizzes: 20 points x 11 assignments = 220
Participation = 180
Democracy in Action Assignments = 200

I have the right to adjust the points as this is subject to change, but this is likely to be the breakdown of points.
Policy on Copying and Cheating:Students who submit the work of others as their own or cheat on exams or other assignments will receive a failing grade in the course and will be reported to college authorities.
Catalyst Information
This course utilizes Catalyst, De Anza's Online Learning Community. Please view the Catalyst website at to login. Please note that you will be unable to login until the first day of class. Be sure you are using your correct username and password - do not use your social security number or international "99" number. If you need help logging in or finding your student ID, please view the short instructional video at: Additional instructions and assistance can be found on the Catalyst website.
De Anza College Bookstore Contact Information
Phone: 408-864-8455
De Anza College Library Services are available for all students and faculty, both on and off campus. Please consult the library website for a complete description of the library services and hours:

De Anza College Library:

Services of particular interest to off campus students include:
  • Access to the Library Catalog which includes books, DVDs, and course reserves. Here is a link to the library catalog:
    Library Catalog:
  • Article Databases and Research Databases The library subscribes to several electronic databases which provide access to thousands of full-text journals, newspapers, and magazine articles. Research databases include: LEXIS NEXIS Academic, Encyclopedia Britannica Online and a Practice Test Database which contains Nursing Exams, TOEFL Preparation, College Entrance Exams, and many more.
To use the article or research databases from an off campus computer, log in with your 14 digit library number or eight digit student id number. These instructions are repeated on the first page of the library website along with descriptions of all the online resources provided.

Online Education
Building: MLC 210

Phone: 408.864.8969
M-Th: 9:00a-5:00p
F: 9:00a-4:00p


Last Updated: 1/27/16