Political Attitudes and Behavior
POL 472.01 Fall 2006
MWF 2-2:50 Room AB1 306
Office: AB1 319 D
Phone: 936/294-4721 Ext. 4721
Office Hours: MWF 10am-11am and by appointment
COURSE DESCRIPTION: This is a course about two main topics: 1) how average people relate to politics (i.e. how they think about politics, how they form their opinions, and what those opinions and attitudes mean for the political system); and 2) political behavior. In the first portion of the course, we will discuss the nature and consequences of the public's understanding of politics, public opinion on issues, the media's impact, and the impact of public opinion on the political system as a whole. In the second portion of the course, we will focus more on things such as: political participation, party identification, elections and voting behavior, political psychology, the formation of political ideology and beliefs, and various theories on political behavior. In this latter portion of the class, the readings will be varied, and will come from political science, economics, and psychology.
Erikson and Tedin, American Public Opinion: Its Origins, Content, and Impact
, 7th edition
ATTENDANCE POLICY: Class attendance is required. See general university regulations. Makeup exams are available only for verified and excused absences, and are given at the instructor's convenience.
EXAMS: There will be four exams, counting equally toward the final grade. The format of the exams will be partly objective — that is, matching/true-false questions, with — mostly—short identifications or essay questions. I reserve the right to change the format of the tests during the semester if I deem it necessary. Final dates of and formats of exams will be announced in class.
GRADING PLAN: Grades are based on exams (80%) and out-of-class essay assignments (20%). This means the four exams will be averaged and weighted 80%, while the out-of-class assignments together will be weighted 20% (I have yet to determine the number of essay assignments). As noted, if it becomes necessary, daily quizzes can be incorporated into the grading scheme as well. For all assignments and exams the normal grading scale is used: 90 and above, A; 80-89, B; 70-79, C; 60-69, D; 59 and below, F.
FINALS: December 11-14. Check schedule of classes for exact times and date of final exam for this course.
READINGS : Many are available on JSTOR ( www.jstor.org ), the others are on hardcopy and electronic reserve in the library.
ASSIGNMENTS: First, students are required to complete their daily readings prior to class. While overnight comprehension is not expected, the combination of lectures and reading enhances the learning process. It also allows me the opportunity to ask questions and generate class discussion. Second, assignments come in a variety of formats in the effort to cater to all the individual learning styles and strengths in the classroom. Though there is variation in the types of exams and assignments given, writing assignments are frequent as they are most suitable for assessing critical thinking about the concepts being learned. Finally, I require interactive discussion of the readings and lecture material in class. In the class discussions, my role is to facilitate debate and provide input and clarification when it is needed. Students are encouraged to offer arguments and to challenge arguments offered in class. The exchange of perspectives exposes students to a diversity of viewpoints, allows them the opportunity to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the various arguments offered, and gives them a chance to hone their public speaking skills and their ability to advance and defend their own assertions. If during the semester class participation is not at a level I think is acceptable, I reserve the right to incorporate daily quizzes over the reading material.
ACADEMIC HONESTY: All students are expected to engage in all academic pursuits in a manner that is above reproach. Students are expected to maintain complete honesty and integrity in the academic experiences both in and out of the classroom. Any student found guilty of dishonesty in any phase of academic work will be subject to disciplinary action. The University and its official representatives may initiate disciplinary proceedings against a student accused of any form of dishonesty including, but not limited to, cheating on an examination or other academic work which is to be submitted, plagiarism, collusion, and the abuse of resource materials. Violation of this policy will result in a grade of 0 on an exam where there is cheating (for example, looking over at another student's exam during the exam, looking at any notes or cribs during the exam, etc.).
RULES OF CONDUCT: Students will refrain from behavior in the classroom that
intentionally or unintentionally disrupts the learning process and, thus, impedes
the mission of the university. Cellular telephones and pagers must be turned
off before the class begins. Students are prohibited from eating in class, using
tobacco products, making offensive remarks, talking at inappropriate times,
wearing inappropriate clothing, or engaging in any other form of distraction.
Inappropriate behavior in the classroom shall result in a directive to leave
class. Students who are especially disruptive also may be reported to the Dean
of Students for disciplinary action in accordance with university policy.
VISITORS IN THE CLASSROOM: Unannounced visitors to class must present a current, official SHSU identification card to be permitted in the classroom. They must not present a disruption to the class by their attendance. If the visitor is not a registered student, it is at the instructor's discretion whether or not the visitor will be allowed to remain in the classroom.
INSTRUCTOR EVALUATIONS: Students will be asked to complete a course/instructor evaluation toward the end of the semester.
WITH DISABILITIES: will be accommodated in any way possible. Please let the
instructor know early on in the semester.
RELIGIOUS HOLIDAYS: any student who needs to miss a class for the observance of a religious holiday will be accommodated in any way possible. Please let the instructor know early on in the semester. Syllabus is subject to change if circumstances so dictate.