Name of Course

Course Number

Course Section Code, Section Day/Time (optional)


Note - This is a composite syllabus using information for different classes as an example for each section.  It is intended to encourage your thinking, not to guide the creation of a syllabus for any particular discipline or college. This example includes wording in each section from both online and traditional courses.  

Your needs may be different.  You may use any wording from this syllabus that is helpful to you.

Your Name
Office Location
Office Hours

Course Description:  

Purpose:  This course provides instruction that prepares students for Freshman Composition and emphasizes an understanding and ability to use proper grammar and mechanics while writing paragraphs and short essays.

Approach to the Material:  To help you develop your skills, we will focus on the technical aspects of writing—thesis statements, topic sentences, paragraphing, and sentence diagramming—while writing short and medium length essays. We will also read extensively because good readers make good writers; we will do a variety of exercises, including textual and online exercises that review grammar and mechanics.

By the end of the course, you must be able to write medium length academic papers of up to five to seven pages in length, read and analyze short works of non-fiction, and express yourself clearly through writing. In order to ensure that you achieve these objectives, we will go through each writing task carefully. We will discuss what each task asks you to do, learn how to complete each assignment, and explore what each one should look like. To help you remember our discussions, please use a notebook and pen to take notes during each class session.

Learning Objectives: By the conclusion of the course you should be able to:

  1. Develop your thoughts into organized, unified, and coherent paragraphs and essays;
  2. Communicate effectively by writing multiple drafts and refining your grammatical skills;
  3. Read actively, critically, and efficiently while processing and synthesizing what you’ve read.


Connors, Robert, and Andrea Lunsford. The Everyday Writer: A Brief Reference. 2nd ed. New York: St. Martin’s, 2000. ISBN: 0312243472.

Stanford, Judith A. Connections: A Multicultural Reader for Writers. 3nd ed. Mountain View, CA: Mayfield, 2000. ISBN: 0767417232

Other Readings:

ABC journal

We also recommend a subscription or regular library reading of a news publication emphasizing politics and the economy, such as Time, Newsweek, U.S. News and World Report, The Wall Street Journal, or The Economist; regular viewing of news programming such as CNN, CSPAN, and the News Hour with Jim Lehrer on PBS; and/or regular surfing of internet sites focusing on American politics.


Course Design:

Each lesson for this course has:

Students are responsible for knowing and adhering to due dates for readings, essays, and other in-class activities. I will announce any changes to the schedule during class time and post them to the class website. Students are responsible for noting all changes and adhering to them. Please check the web site announcements for a repetition of calendar changes.

This schedule is subject to modification and revision depending on the needs of the class.

Note:  The schedule below shows an online course calendar

Lesson One

September 5 to noon Wednesday September 13

IMPORTANT - BE SURE TO WORK THROUGH the Online Course Sample as an orientation to online courses.  You will find a link to that page on your MyWebCT home page.

Introduction to the Course (Read Chapter 1)

POSTS and the first quiz must be completed by NOON September 13

This is a practice lesson.  Grades will not count in your final score.  But, you must complete the assignment, or you may be dropped from the course.  

Lesson Two

September 13th to noon Wednesday September 27th

American History and the Constitution (Read Chapter 2)

Political Culture and Ideology (Read Chapter 7 and 8)

LONG POSTS must be completed by NOON Friday, September, 22nd; reply posts and quizzes are due by noon Wednesday, September 27th.  NO LATE WORK!!!

Lesson Three

September 27th to noon Wednesday October 11th 

Interest Groups (Read Chapter 9)

Political Parties (Read Chapter 10)

LONG POSTS must be completed by NOON Friday, October 6th; reply posts and quizzes are due by noon October 11th.  NO LATE WORK!!!

Lesson Four 

October 11th to noon Wednesday October 18th

NOTE:  Only one week for this lesson!!!


Public Opinion, Participation, and Voting (Read Chapter 11)

Campaigns and Elections (Read Chapter 12)

The Media and Politics (Read Chapter 13)

Remember, LONG POSTS must be completed by NOON Monday October 16th; reply posts and quizzes are due by noon October 18th.  NO LATE WORK!!!

Lesson Five

October 18th to noon Wednesday November 1st



Congress ( Read Chapters 14  plus readings posted on this site for The Legislative Process.)

Economic Policy (Read Chapter 18 plus readings posted on this site for Modern American Economic History and the Federal Reserve System.)

Remember, LONG POSTS must be completed by NOON Friday October 27th; reply posts and quizzes are due by noon November 1st.  NO LATE WORK!!!

Lesson Six

November 1st to noon Wednesday November 15th


The Presidency (Read Chapter 15)

Foreign Policy (Read Chapter 20 plus readings posted on this site for A Brief History of American Foreign Policy.)

Remember, LONG POSTS must be completed by NOON Friday November 10th; reply posts and quizzes are due by noon November 15th.  NO LATE WORK!!!

Lesson Seven

November 15th to noon Wednesday November 29th

Note:  Long posts are due Thanksgiving weekend.  You may wish to complete the long post early if you have plans for the weekend.

The Bureaucracy (Read Chapter 17)

Social Policy (Read Chapter 19)

LONG POSTS must be completed by NOON Friday November 24th; reply posts and quizzes are due by noon November 29th.  NO LATE WORK!!! 

Lesson Eight

November 29th to noon December 6th

 The Judiciary (Read Chapter 16)

Civil Liberties and Rights (Read Chapter 4, 5 & 6 plus readings posted on this site for Civil Liberties and Civil Rights.)

LONG POSTS must be completed by NOON Friday December 1st; reply posts and quizzes are due by noon December 6th.  NO LATE WORK!!!

Lesson Nine

December 6th to noon Friday December 15th

Look for final grades by December 20th.   


Federalism (Read  Chapter 3)

Final Thoughts (Read Chapter 21)


Remember that you may wish to include in your calendar the types of learning experiences a student may anticipate for that lesson.  

What successful students should expect to do in this course: 

Responsibilities:  Successful students follow both oral and written instructions. The syllabus and assignment sheets are the primary sources of instructions in any college course, so successful students read them carefully and refer to them regularly.

Successful students write down any instructions given orally by the professor; they also are careful to make sure that they have taken accurate notes and ask questions before due dates.

Successful students look up information first so that they ask informed questions, not questions they already have the answers to. If they can’t find the answers, they contact the instructor after class or via voice mail or email. 

Successful students pay close attention to how they can best and most easily learn the material in a particular subject area.  You may find it helpful to take a learning styles inventory to guide your study habits.  You can access one online at  If you have difficulty figuring out how best to learn the material in this class, please make an appointment to see me.  

Online Course Responsibilities:  This course requires significant self-motivation.  You must not get behind.  Lessons take up to eight hours to finish.  Don't try to do them in one day.   Please note that not all lessons are created equal.  Some may take a bit more time than others.

You would normally spend 3 hours per week in class for this course (total 54 hours).  Allow yourself at least 8 hours per lesson to complete the lessons on-line, including the time spent writing for the postings to the class bulletin board.  You should plan additional time to read the text and study for the quizzes.  In the beginning, the lessons will probably take longer than they will once you are familiar with the system. A statement will be posted to the bulletin board that says: "Reply here to Lesson #, Question #."  Please post your responses to the reflect question as responses to these posts. 

Some people believe this a much easier way to study this subject than in the on campus framework because they love to read and avoid parking problems.  Others may feel very intimidated at first.   Be patient as you work your way through the first few lessons.  If you read well and are serious about the material, you will learn as much as, or more than most on campus students about this subject, and you will develop reading and communication skills that are vital to the workforce of the 21st century. 

Planning Time:  Successful students, those that get A’s, B’s, and C’s, use their time wisely. The standard formula for college coursework is that every one hour of class time will result in two to three hours of homework, so a three unit class will do an average of six or more hours of homework (reading, research, studying) per week.

As a result, successful students plan their time wisely so that they keep up with assignments. They also meet with the instructor during office hours so that they can get much needed feedback on their work. 

Plagiarism Successful students always make sure that their work is original. This is important because the instructor must be able to gauge what the student has learned. Therefore, copying the work of another person, whether an essay or answers during a test, is considered plagiarism.

Plagiarism is a form of cheating. Any time a student uses someone else's work and does not give that person credit, it is plagiarism. Anyone who plagiarizes will receive an “F” on the assignment. If this is repeated, the student will fail the course and can be expelled from the college. If you are "suspected" of plagiarism, you will bear the burden of proof. You must be able to present rough drafts or related materials and discuss the topic intelligently.

Classroom Conduct:  Successful students conduct themselves in a professional manner because college is a professional environment; it’s just like a job.

Successful students are ready to start class at the appropriate time and have their notebooks open and their pens ready to take notes because diligently taking notes and being attentive during class shows a professor that the student is a serious student who wants to learn and because most students need to move the material from the ears and eyes through their brain and hand in order to absorb it more effectively.  Notes also provide a reminder of what was discussed and can serve to flag material that is unclear to you.  If you get home, reread your notes, and can't remember or understand what you wrote, ask about it at the next class meeting, via e-mail, or during office hours.

Successful students ask questions about anything in class they do not understand, but they do not engage in side conversations and whispering because this is disruptive and distracting to others around them.  Many students have made huge personal sacrifices to come to college, don't disrupt their class.  I may ask students who are engaging in side conversations to leave the class if they persist in annoying those around them.

Successful students are attentive during class; they do not doze off, do homework for other classes, organize their bags or purses, or compose letters to friends. They are also aware of those around them and are sensitive to what might offend, so they don’t engage in personal relationships during class, and they choose language that will not be considered offensive.

Also, please turn off all beepers, cell phones, and watch alarms that make noise before coming into class; they are a serious distraction in college classes and cannot be tolerated. Please instruct relatives or friends to call campus security in case of an emergency. Security will look up the class in the system and then send someone to the class.

Online Courtesy Policy: Extreme consideration for the feelings of others is expected.  Do not tell people they are stupid or wrong.  Do explain why you believe differently.  If someone has the facts wrong, direct them to the source of accurate information or politely offer your alternative "facts."  Use of profanity or direct insults which defame a person's character, race, ethnicity, religion, etc. are inappropriate and will not be tolerated.  Such abuses will result in expulsion from the course after one warning.    

Special Needs:  If you have a physical, psychiatric/emotional, medical, or learning disability that may impact your ability to carry out assigned course work, I urge you to contact the staff in Disabled Student Services, in Location ____, or call ___________ or ___________ (TDD).  DSP&S will review your concerns and determine, with you, what accommodations are necessary and appropriate.  All information and documentation is confidential.  

Use of Classroom or Online Time:  

Communicating in Class:  I encourage students to communicate with me and to work out difficult questions or problems. I am always approachable, so please do not feel or assume that I am “too busy” to talk with you. If I am too busy at that particular moment, I will tell you and offer an alternative time.  I may advise tutoring if you need extensive assistance.  Let me know if you are going to miss a class or if you are having trouble completing an assignment. I am available during office hours and via voice mail and email.

Class Online Discussion Board: You are required to actively participate on the class bulletin board.  In the "Reflect and Share" sections I have posed some important questions in American politics.  You will be asked to directly respond to one of them and to respond to two other student responses.  Please keep your comments on the discussion board focused on the topic.  If you wish to discuss another political issue in a professional manner, you are encouraged to start a new thread on that topic.  I have created a section of the bulletin board for a bit social interaction and community building.  While you may discuss topics unrelated to the class in that section (and ONLY in that section),  do keep your comments professional and appropriate.  Dating, romantic or sexual topics are NOT appropriate, keep it G rated.

AttendanceATTENDANCE IS MANDATORY, and you must be present and ON TIME for all class sessions. If a student misses more than two class sessions, please be aware that on the third absence, s/he may be dropped from the class; however, this is not a guarantee that a person will be dropped—students are responsible for dropping themselves from the class.  Absences and Tardiness will be deducted from the participation points given at the end of the semester. 

Students who choose not to continue the course are responsible for turning in a drop card to the admissions office. Please do not assume that I have filed a drop card. Failure to officially drop the course may result in an "F". If you miss work after the deadline to drop and have an acceptable reason (like hospitalization), an  "Incomplete" would be more appropriate. When in doubt, communicate. 

Technology Requirements:  

This class has a required online component; the web address and access code are __________. Computers with online access are available in the ____________, if you do not have access at home. Each student is also required to have an email account, and it must be checked regularly; email is available free of charge (see me for details).

The following are the online course components:

Online Announcements:  These are updated as often as necessary and are used to remind students of assignments, to share new information, and to share ideas or suggestions. I will also post links to the most recent quizzes here.

Course Documents and Assignments:  These sections contain most of the materials needed for the course; this includes lecture notes, handouts, assignment sheets, copies of the syllabus, and quizzes. Students are responsible for downloading all material needed for class in a timely manner.

Discussion Board:  For each lesson you will be asked to make one long post or two response posts.  You are welcome to make additional response posts, but I will only grade one long post and two reply posts per lesson.   Because there are no time or space constraints, I expect your postings to be both well reasoned and well written.  Try and make your position as clear as possible.  Do not simply state your conclusions.  Build strong arguments.   It is good practice for the future! Your typos and very minor grammar errors are forgiven in advance. No attempt will be made to grade that aspect of your posting. 

Communication:  This section allows students to e-mail the instructor or other students and to work in groups online.

External Links:  This section links the site to online libraries at the local colleges and universities; online tutoring, which may be used towards the tutoring requirement; grammar helps; and to auxiliary links for the textbooks; a variety of other sources are also linked.

Student Tools:  Here, students can turn in papers, modify their online registration information, set up their own homepage and calendar, and access help menus.

Web Quest: If we conduct a webquest for the research project, I will notify students in class and explain how to do it. 

General Information:

Students are required to use the web site.

All email must contain the student’s name in the subject heading.

Please remember that this is a professional site, so we must conduct ourselves accordingly. Please do not misuse the Internet or email. School policies are available in the Library and Learning/Writing Center. Students are responsible for knowing and adhering to these policies. Finally, please do not forward messages to me or other students.


This course is graded on the following scale: 

A = 1000 - 900 points or 90%
B = 899 - 800 points or 80-89%; 
C = 799 - 700 points or 70-79%; 
D = 699 - 600 points or 60-69% 
F= 599 - 0 or 59% or lower

Grades will be based on the following percentages:

Essay # 1, 2, & midterm revision = 100 points each for a total of 300
Essay 3 & 4 = 150 points for a total of 300
Essay 5 = 200 points
Total for essays = 800 points or 80%
Online Work, Tutoring, and Participation = 50 points or 5%
Quizzes and Exams = 50 points or 5%
Group Presentation and Final= 100 points or 10%

What you can expect from my comments on the online discussion board: Given the significant number of student posts, I will usually comment to the group as a whole about their response to the question.  I may interject comments during the week in order to help steer the discussion.  I may point out posts that are particularly good in some respect and provide a model for others.   I will forward individual comments via private e-mail when it is clear that a significant misunderstanding of the concept has occurred or where I believe the individual needs additional assistance to be successful in subsequent lessons.  

A comment on grading philosophy:  A common misperception in college is that the process of putting grades on papers is purely subjective; teachers arbitrarily assign a grade to a paper depending on their particular preferences, opinions, moods, and what they want to hear. However, this is not an accurate perception.

Grading criteria are regularly discussed by faculty.  The standards applied to college courses reflect these discussions and the conclusions reached through them. I use these criteria (as reflected in the rubric).   Remember that the teacher’s job is a bit more objective than you may have previously thought. While we realize the effort writers have put into an essay, our job is ultimately to examine the written product and measure its success according to the criteria or rubric.

Note to the visually impaired: The following information describes the grading rubric for the course. It appears in table form and may not translate effectively in all screen readers. The header on the table divides the table into three columns: score, content included, and style.

Grading Rubric for an Online Class


Content Included



The post shows extensive use of the readings, lessons, webquests, or relevant research materials. Sound analysis of the materials is employed. If requested, a clearly explained and defended opinion is offered.
The post is clearly written, and contains few grammar or spelling errors that would serve to undermine the clarity of the post.


The post shows use of the readings, lessons, webquests, or relevant research materials. Sound analysis of the materials is employed. If requested, an opinion is offered and defended. The post is clearly written.


The post illustrates that its author has read the readings, lessons and/or relevant webquests. Analysis of the materials is employed. If requested, an opinion is offered and defended. The post is clearly written.


The post illustrates that its author has read some of the readings, lessons and/or relevant webquests, even though these materials may not be referred to in the post. Some analysis of the materials is employed. If requested, an opinion is offered. The post is clearly written.


Only two of the following are included: 1) use of readings, etc. 2) analysis, 3) opinion The post has some clarity flaws but it is still possible to comprehend what the author intends.


Only one of following is included: 1) use of readings, etc. 2) analysis, 3) opinion The post has some clarity flaws but it is still possible to comprehend what the author intends.


A very brief but factually correct and relevant statement is made. The post may have many style flaws.


A very brief and not necessary accurate comment is made.

The post has many style flaws.

For more on Grading Rubrics See Module 7 of

Keep records of all work (including test scores) at least until you have received your grade from the admissions office following completion of the course. If you believe an error exists, communicate no later than ten days after the start of the next session / semester.

Your Professor:

For those who may be interested in my professional and civic involvements and accomplishments I have prepared a web page located at    If you would like to read any of the articles I have published, please let me know and I will make a copy available to you.  Should you have questions about the colleges I attended, or the civic or professional organizations in which I participate, please feel free to ask in class or during office hours. 

What to expect from me outside the classroom:  In order to meet all of my professional obligations, I plan my schedule carefully.  While I might wish to be available for your questions 24/7, that is simply not possible. Please be advised that I regularly check my phone and e-mail messages on Monday, Wednesday and Friday between noon and 2 PM.  This means that if you leave a message at 2:01 on Friday it will most likely not be returned before noon on Monday. 

What you can expect when you submit papers or projects for grading:  I make every effort to return papers and projects within one week.  Occasionally, other professional obligations make this impossible.  I will advise you of this when the work is submitted and let you know when you can anticipate return.  I make comments in the margins of written work.  Should these comments be insufficient for you to understand your grade, please make an appointment to discuss the paper.  If you cannot read my handwriting, please ask about that too.  I will never be offended.  I make every attempt to be legible, but sometimes my arthritis acts up. 

Questions about course content, related political issues, grading, study habits, and so forth are welcome. Every reasonable effort will be made to assist in a student's success, especially when that need is expressly communicated.