El Camino College

Political Science 1
Governments of the United States and California

Political Science
Laurie Houske

Class Information
Couse Policies
Course Material
Online Resources
Instructor Home

Contact information:

Phone: 310-660-3593 ext. 3741

Office Hours:
SOCS 109
M                         10:15-11:15am

T                          9:00-9:30am
9:00-10:00pm-online(email me houskeonline@yahoo.com)
W                         10:15-11:15am
1:00-2:00pm-online(email me houskeonline@yahoo.com)
Th                         9:00-9:30am

Please feel free to visit/call me in my office if those office hours are more convenient or you are on campus. 


Please review the below information, register online at http://pearsonmylabandmastering.com, and email me with any questions regarding the course. You must be must be registered in MyPoliSciLab by the end of the 2nd week or you will be dropped.


This course will be taught entirely online. There will not be an on-campus orientation but there are screenocast video links at available to orient you to the class.             

Students agree to the following statement:

Through the entry of my username and password I affirm that I am the student who enrolled in this course.  Futhermore, I affirm that I understand and agree to follow the regulations regarding academic integrity and the use of student data as described in the ECC Board Policy 5500 Academic Honesty and Standards of Conduct that governs student rights and responsibilities.  Failure to abide by the regulations may result in disciplinary action up to expulsion form the college. 

Class Information:

Pol Sci 1-online, Section 4184 &  4185 

This course will be taught completely online.  The course is administered through MyPolSciLab.

To register for Poli 1 Fall/Spring:

1. Go to pearsonmylabandmastering.com.

2. Under Register, click


3. Enter your instructor’s course ID:

Poli 1-Section 4184-- Posted here

Poli 1-Section 4185 --Posted here   

and click Continue.

4. Sign in with an existing Pearson account or create an account:

If you have used a Pearson website (for example, MyITLab, Mastering, MyMathLab, or MyPsychLab), enter your Pearson username and password.


Sign In.

If you do not have a Pearson account, click Create. Write down your new Pearson username and password to help you remember them.

5. Select an option to access your instructor’s online course

Use the access code that came with your textbook or that you purchased separately from the bookstore.

Buy access using a credit card or PayPal.

If available, get 17 days of temporary access. (Look for a link near the bottom of the page.)

6. Click

Go To Your Course on the Confirmation page. Under MyLab / Mastering New Design on the left, click

Poli 1  to start your work.

Retaking or continuing a course?

If you are retaking this course or enrolling in another course with the same book,

be sure to use your existing Pearson username and password. You will not need to

pay again.

To sign in later:

1. Go to


2. Click

Sign In.

3. Enter your Pearson account username and password. Click

Sign In.

4. Under MyLab / Mastering New Design on the left, click

Poli 1  to start your work.

Note: A strong word of advice, prior to deciding to take an online course access the  Online Student Handbook from the Distance Education Webpage, found at http://www.elcamino.edu/library/distance-ed The handbook will provide you with among other things; answers to frequently asked questions, a discussion of the skills you will need, and offer you tips for success as an online student. 

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Course Overview & Policies:

  • Welcome to Governments of the United States and California.  The goal of this course is to become familiar with the basics of government.  As part of this class we will evaluate the concepts, theories, and functions of the American political system.  This will include an analysis of the Constitution and the three branches of government.  By the end of the semester, you should have a basic understanding of our US Constitution, the Presidency, Congress, the Judiciary, elections, political parties and interest groups.  You should also have an understanding of political socialization and the role of mass media in the political process.
  • I will encourage everyone to stay up to date on current events as this will help in your understanding of the political process.  Additionally, you are required to maintain a political journal as one of your assignments.  You should look to a variety of news sources-TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, and websites.  Some suggested examples are: New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, CNN, Fox, MSNBC, PBS, etc.
  • Exams:  There are 12 exams that you will take during the semester-10 chapter exams, a midterm, and a final.  If for some reason you have a technical problem (your computer freezes, etc.), email me immediately as I will be checking the time of the email with your exam time.
  • Papers:  You are required to complete both a paper and political journal for this class.  Both are due towards the end of the semester but you have the option of turning them in early.
  • Video Series:Each chapter has a series of videos to watch related to the chapter.Please watch each group of videos as they are very informative and help to put the chapter in context.I also recommend that you take notes from these videos as they cover a significant amount of information in a concise fashion.Additionally, there are quizzes associated with some of the videos.While these quizzes are not part of your grade, I recommend that you take them as a few questions from them might end up on your chapter quiz.
  • Emails:  Any emails that are sent to me, please title the subject line as "PS1-online-Section #."  I will attempt to answer your emails within a day of receiving them. Please be aware that I teach a full schedule of classes so I will not always be able to respond as fast as you or I might like. Another thing to remember is not to panic. If something goes wrong, you do not need to send me frantic emails. There is no problem that we can not solve so no one needs to panic. I will not be checking emails on Sunday and will respond to weekend emails on Monday.
  • If you intend to drop the class, it is your responsibility to drop yourself.  I will not drop you.  If you do not drop yourself you will receive an “F” grade.  The last day to drop with a “W” is Friday, date would be posted here.
  • In order to be successful in this class you need to have strong study skills and be a self-motivator.  You will need good reading and writing skills as well as being organized.  Finally, you will need minimal computer skills and it will be hard to "learn as you go." 
  • El Camino College is committed to providing educational accomodations for students with disabilities upon the timely request by the student to the instructor.  A student with a disability, who would like to request an academic accommodation, is responsible for identifying herself/himself to the instructor and to the Special Resources Center.  To make arrangements for academic accommodations, contact the Special Resources Center.
  • Helpful Links:

Special Resource Center


ECC Library Online

Course Objectives:


Upon completing this course, students will hopefully be able to describe the basic concepts, theories and functions of the American and California political systems, and meet the following objectives:

1. Identify the theoretical foundations and the applications of the American political system. 2. Analyze major political institutions: the presidency, bureaucracy, Congress, Judiciary, elections, political parties, and interest groups. 

3. Examine and assess the implementation of democracy, including the different perspectives of elitism, pluralism, and majoritarianism. 

4. Evaluate the role of the mass media in the political process. 

5. Identify and discuss political culture and the function of political socialization. 

6. Compare and contrast the relationship of federal and state governmental systems and processes with emphasis on California. 

7. Evaluate and analyze the interdependence of economics and politics. 

8. Distinguish between civil rights and civil liberties and their evolution in American society. 

9. Assess the federal and state judicial systems and their impact on public policy. 

10. Examine and discuss the process of public policy making in relation to international and domestic policy issues. 

11. Assess the concept and implementation of citizenship. 

12. Analyze issues of race, ethnicity, class, age, and gender as they relate to the distribution of power in the political process.

Student Learning Outcomes:

1.  In a multiple choice test, students will demonstrate knowledge of the basic principles of the United States Constitution including its Articles and Amendments, as well as those for the government of California.
2.  In a multiple choice or written essay exam, students will demonstrate  and understanding of how political parties and interest groups serve as channels for popular participation, and compare/contrast the techniques they use to do so.

3.  In a written essay or multiple choice exam, students will demonstrate an understanding of the various roles played by the President and California Governor, the political resources available to them to meet the expectations associated with those roles, and how those resources are limited.

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Week 1           


Read Chapter 1-Introducing Government in America,

Watch videos for chapter 1,
Simulation: You are a Candidate for Congress
Take Chapter 1 Exam

Participate in the Introduction Discussion Board

Week 2


Read Chapter 2-Constitution,
The Constitution (Appendix, ebook)
The Declaration of Independence (Appendix, ebook),
Federalist Paper No. 10 & 51, (Appendix, ebook),
Watch vidoes for chapter 2,
Simulation: You are a Founder
Take Chapter 2 Exam


Week 3



Read Chapter 3-Federalism

Watch vidoes for chapter 3,
Simulation: You are a Federal Judge

Take Chapter 3 Exam

Participate in Discussion Board #1


Week 4 

Read Chapter 4-Civil Liberties

Watch vidoes for chapter 4,
Explore Civil Liberties and Public Policy: Should the Government Apply the Death Penalty

Take Chapter 4 Exam

Participate in Discussion Board #2

Week 5

Read Chapter 5-Civil Rights

Watch vidoes for chapter 5,
Simulation: You are a mayor


No Chapter exam this week.


Week 6 


Read Chapter 6-Public Opinion & Political Action

Watch vidoes for chapter 6,
Explore Public Opinion and Political Action: How are People Involved in Politics?


Take Chapter 6 Exam


Week 7

Take Midterm exam

Week 8                       


Read Chapter 7-Mass Media

Watch vidoes for chapter 7,
Explore the Mass Media and the Political Agenda: Where Do You Get Your Political News?

Participate in Discussion Board #3

Week 9 



Read Chapter 8-Political Parties

Watch vidoes for chapter 8,
Simulation: You are a Voter


Take Chapter 8 Exam


Week 10                      



Read Chapter 9-Campaigns & Voting Behavior

Watch vidoes for chapter 9,
Explore Campaigns and Voting Behavior: Who Votes-and Who Doesn't?


Take Chapter 9 Exam


Week 11                     



Read Chapter 10-Interest Groups

Watch vidoes for chapter 10,
Explore Interest Groups: Can Interest Groups Buy Public Policy


Take Chapter 10 Exam

Participate in Discussion Board #4

Week 12                     


Paper due  


Week 13                      


Read Chapter 11-Congress

Watch vidoes for chapter 11,
Explore Congress: Can Congress Get Anything Done?

Take Chapter 11 Exam


Week 14 



Read Chapter 12-The Presidency
Watch vidoes for chapter 12,
Simulation: You are a First Term President

Take Chapter 12 Exam


Journal due 

Week 15 


Read Chapter 15- The Federal Courts

Watch vidoes for chapter 15,
Simulation: You are a Supreme Court Clerk

Week 16


Take Final exam-Final A Part 1 & 2                    

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Discussion Boards:
You are required to participate in 4 online discussions and will be graded on two. Each discussion board is worth 20 points. A topic will be posted by me during that week.  You will be graded on the quality of your responses in the discussion. At a minimum, you are required to respond to my initial posting as well as respond to one of your classmates' postings. (You should make an original posting and a response posting, not two response postings.) Specific dates for these discussions are listed in the preceding syllabus section. You need to inform me by email which discussion boards you want graded or else I will choose.        

Term Paper
Please write a 3-5 page paper on the topic described below.  Your paper should be well written and punctuation and grammar count so please proofread and spell check.  This is not a research paper but rather an analysis paper.  I will grade you on the quality and completeness of your analysis.

Your paper is due on Saturday, due date would be here and must be sent to houskeonline@yahoo.com with subject of your email being titled "Movie Paper."  I will respond within 24 hours that I have received your paper.

Paper Description
People are fascinated by the political process and therefore it has been illustrated in film since the start of films.  Films present the political process in a variety of ways.  There have been cynical representations (Wag the Dog, Bulworth), patriotic representations (Mr. Smith Goes to Washington), and idealistic representations (American President).  Please pick a movie(s) that represents the political process. Use the movie(s) to illustrate the public’s opinion of the government. Compare and contrast your movie(s) selection’s view of the political process to your own viewpoint. If you choose to use two movies, please make a comparison of these movies in your paper.  Remember, you are not writing a movie review but rather critically analyzing the movie.

Political Journal:
Your political journal will consist of 5 journal entries covering a political event during the semester.  They can cover any level of government (federal, state or local) as well as international events.  Your journal is due on Saturday, due date would be here and must be sent to houskeonline@yahoo.com with subject of your email being titled "Political Journal PS! Section #".  I will respond within 24 hours that I have received your paper.

You must use the following format (or points will be deducted) for your journal entries:

1. Electronic source: i.e., www.cnn.com, www.msnbc.com, www.news.yahoo.com, etc.

2. Specific Webpage: i.e., http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/Americas/7238214.stm

3. Date of the article:  August 26,  

4. Summary of the article: here you should give the article’s title and provide a well-rounded summary, at least three to four  paragraphs. Then, in a fifth or sixth paragraph you should discuss how it relates to the course, and the political process. NOTE: Your five journal entries should be drawn from five different electronic sources, meaning five different websites. And they should all be submitted in one document, meaning send 1 attachment not 5 different attachments.

Chapter Exams:
There will be 10 Chapter exams that you must complete during this semester.  These exams can be found in each chapter folder.  Each chapter exam is worth 25 points and you will have one hour to take each chapter exam.

Midterm Exam:
There will be one midterm in Week 7 covering Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, & 6.  You must take the Midterm Exam during this week.  The exam will be divided into two parts worth 50 points each for a total of 100 points.  For each part of the exam you will have 90 minutes.  

Final Exam:
There will be one final in Week 16 covering Chapters 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, & 15.  You must take the Final Exam during this week.  The exam will be divided into two parts worth 50 points each for a total of 100 points.  For each part of the exam you will have 90 minutes.


Discussion Boards                           40 points
Term Paper                                   100 points
Political Journal                              100 points
Chapter Exams                              250 points
Midterm Exam                               100 points
Final Exam                                    100 points
Total Points                                   690 points

A      690-621
B      620-551
C      550-481
D      480-411
F       410-341

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Course Material:

Edwards, George C., Wattenberg, Martin P., Lineberry, Robert L., Government in America, 2013 Custom Edition
with MyPoliSciLab

Options for Buying the book:
1.  Buy it from the bookstore on campus.  It will come packaged with an access code to http://pearsonmylabandmastering.com
2. Buy the book from another source such as online. If you choose this route, you need to be certain what you are buying. You must have access to peasonmylabandmastering so you need to be certain that you are also buying an access code.  Many sellers online will lie about the access code so please use caution.

3. Buy access online which comes with an e-book. This might be the most inexpensive option as buying access costs $75.00 but you must be comfortable using an e-book. If you are more comfortable using a hard copy of the book then this might not be the best option for you. If you can find an inexpensive version of the textbook but still need access to pearsonmylabandmastering, you can buy online access with no e-book for $55.00. 

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Online Resources:



Intro videos will be posted in Etudes on Thursday. 





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El Camino College, 16007 Crenshaw Blvd., Torrance, California 90506
Phone: 310-532-3760 Toll Free: 1-866-ELCAMINO (1-866-352-2646)
Last Published 2/27/17