American Government I

Western Texas College
Department of Social Sciences

  1. Basic Course Information
    1. Course description - Introductory course in the theory and practice of government and politics in America at the national, state, and local levels, with special emphases on Texas. Topics include: United States and Texas constitutions; federalism; civil liberties and rights; political socialization and public opinion; political parties; interest groups; political participation, including voting; electoral processes; the media. Note: GOVT 2301 will complete the Texas requirement in government for those who already have three semester hours in U.S. Government and need three additional semester hours that include the government, history and constitution of Texas.
    2. Prerequisites - Student should have a proficiency in reading and writing.
  2. Student Learning Outcomes
    1. The student will evaluate political essays for argument, purpose, point of view, reasoning, and reliability by completing a minimum score of 70 on a departmental issued article evaluation exercise.
    2. The student will analyze contemporary political events by completing a minimum score of 70 in a written essay of 300 words or more.
  3. Major Course Requirements
    1. Exams:  There will be three to four major exams spaced throughout the semester. Exam questions may include any combination of the following: True/false, multiple choice, fill in the blanks, short answer, and essay.
    2. Writing Assignments: There will be multiple writing assignments spaced throughout the semester.
    3. Collaborative Exercises: There will be multiple collaborative exercises spaced throughout the semester. Each of these assignments will require you to work with your peers analyzing documents, articles, and other information relating to the study of government.
    4. Forum/Discussion Participation: There will be several discussion forums spaced throughout the semester. Each discussion will take place on-line, making use of the College's on-line platform—Moodle.
  4. Information on Books and Other Course Materials





    American Government and Politics Today 2011-2012 Edition

    Steffen W. Schmidt


    15th Edition

    Texas Politics Today, 2011-2012 Edition,

    William Earl Maxwell


    15th Edition

    Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Political Issues

    George McKenna, Stanley Feingold


    18th Edition

  5. Other Policies: Please refer to the WTC Course Catalog for the following:
    1. Campus Calendar
    2. Final Exam schedule
    3. How to drop a class
    4. Withdrawal information
    5. Student Conduct/Academic Integrity
    6. Students with disabilities.
  6. Course Organization & Tentative Schedule*
Week Topics Reading Assignments

Week 1

Course Introduction


Week 2-3

Introduction to Government & Democracy

Schmidt, Chapter 1
Taking Sides Issue

Week 4-5

Historic Foundations: National & State Constitutions

Schmidt, Chapter 2 & 19
Taking Sides Issue

Week 6


Schmidt, Chapter 3
Taking Sides Issue

Week 7

Political Ideology & Political Socialization

Schmidt, Chapter 6
Taking Sides Issue

Week 8

Political Parties

Schmidt, Chapters 8 & 21
Taking Sides Issue

Week 9

Campaigns and Elections

Schmidt, Chapters 9 & 22
Taking Sides Issue

Week 10

Interest Group Activities

Schmidt, Chapters 7 & 20
Taking Sides Issue

Week 11

Public Opinion & the Mass Media

Schmidt, Chapter 6 & 10
Taking Sides Issue

Week 12

Civil Liberties

Schmidt, Chapter  4
Taking Sides Issue

Week 13-14

Civil Rights

Schmidt, Chapter   5
Taking Sides Issue

Week 15



Week 16

Final Exam


*The above schedule, policies, procedures, and assignments in this course are subject to change.



Last Modified: August 18, 2015