In general, you will produce individual or team projects addressing one or more of the issues covered in class (e.g.,
congressional evolution, modern congress, can congress govern?). The purpose is to use your knowledge of the congress to address the main questions related to these (or other related)
areas. DO NOT begin your project without first clearing a topic with
Individual projects should be
more than 12 full pages.
Team projects may consist of
2 or 3 members (Please designate one person to be "Team Co-ordinator" (who is responsible for crafting the writings of the entire team into one integrated project). While each
team turns in one project, each person in the team is
expected to contribute, on average, more than 7
written pages (in individual, identifiable sections), on average. The typical 3-person team must submit a 21+ page project.
Note: Page length minimums do not include any title pages; pictures, tables, charts/graphs covering more than 1/3 of a page; or bibliography.
Topics (choose one of the following options):
Select one of the last 10 congresses (103rd through 112th—the last 20 years) and discuss it using a chapter from one of our texts as a "theme".
Select one congressional committee and 1) briefly discuss its history; 2) use it to illustrate one of the chapters in one of our texts.
Select one congressional district and 1) briefly cover the last four elections (2004-2010); 2) use it to illustrate at least one theoretical electoral concept found in one of our texts—with an eye towards the next election.
Discuss the congressional leadership of the last five congresses (108th through 112th) using a chapter from one of our texts as a "theme". Consider especially partisan shifts.
am open to other topics suggestions—but you must get my approval, and
the topic must make significant use of the material we cover in class
(but it must not be a mere restatement of that material)..
On what topic do you wish to work?
Collect potential sources (COMPLETE citation info)
Update sources and focus topic
Annotated Bibliography due
Annotated Outline due (keep updating sources)
Presentations (use class feedback for revision)
Grading: Project, Presentation, and Revision are each 10% of your course grade.
Scale: A+=10 points, A=9.5, A-=9, B+=8.8, B=8.5, B-=8, C+=7.8, C=7.5, C-=7...
Important: You will lose 1/2 to 1 point (or more) for failure to meet each requirement.
Grading note: For groups of 3, 2 project points and 2 revision
points are determined using the "World Series" share method.
You should plan on discussing not only the background of your topic, but also specific examples, and an analysis of the current or recent congresses.
Keep in mind two basic considerations:
- You need to discuss background.
Issues do not appear out of nowhere. They develop over time. They are
recognized, considered, and addressed over time. You should discuss why
the issues you are covering are prominent now. Have they been around in
the past, or are they new? Use judgment: you need not cover the entire
nation's history to provide an adequate background.
- You need to discuss dynamics. Congress is not
static. It evolves and adapts over time (to changes in the population,
changes in the political environment,
and to the emergence of new issues). What caused the evolution? Did society or public
opinion shift—and if so, why? To what are the changes attributable? —the
people involved? —the positions they hold? —the Congress or its
nature? —the committee system? —the differences between the House and Senate? —the budget cycle? —the legislative process? What about
political parties, interest groups and/or their campaign contributions,
or the electoral cycle? Your project may not involve all these factors,
but it must involve several of them.
Both academic journals and news magazines are valuable sources. Supplement these with daily newspaper accounts. Use the New York Times or the Washington Post. They are national papers of record, meaning they provide complete coverage of all national issues. You wont find enough information in any other newspapers. There are also many Internet sources to assist you. One caution—use discretion. There are no content restriction on the Internet, and there is a lot of junk out there! Avoid personal sites in favor of sites attached to established organizations. Note: no more than half of your sources may come from internet-only sites (journal, magazine, and newspaper articles that appear both online and in print to not count towards this limit—but you must use their complete print citations).
You must also research the issues and theories behind your topic. The best starting place is GALILEO, where you can search a wide variety of academic journals by author, title, or keyword). Finally, our library's shortcomings are not excuses for an under-researched project. Good research is never limited to one location. Plan on both using inter-library loans (and plan on that early, because it takes time) and on traveling to other libraries (e.g., UGA, Kennesaw, Georgia State). Our library is the first place to look, but it is not the last! If you cannot find the information you need there, look elsewhere.
Automatic deductions for all project components (failure to meet each and any requirement for any component will result in a grade reduction as noted):
- Project length (see below for each component)—partial pages (no matter how much) do not count. As noted above, minimums do not include any title pages; pictures, tables, charts/graphs covering more than 1/3 of a page; or bibliography. Deduction: 1 point per page.
- Formatting—Your project must be divided into labeled sections (see component 2, below). Deduction: 1 point.
- Formatting—12-point or smaller Times font, double-spaced, 1-inch or smaller margins (Word's default is 1.25". For help changing this, click here). Deduction: 1/2 point each for font, spacing, and margins.
- Citations/References—Minimum number of references (see below), APA style for citations/references. APA exceptions: Page numbering must begin with text, not cover page; Quotes of more than three lines must be single-spaced with 1/2" or 5 character additional margins (NOTE: too many long quotes harms your grade); All bibliographic entries must be single-spaced with one space between entries. Deduction: 1 point each for number and style.
- File—must be submitted to Turnitin.com by
the time and date designated on our schedule for each component. The file must be in either Word format (".doc") or WordPerfect format (".wpd"). NOTE: if you use Microsoft Works, you must save your file as a Word (.doc) file and not as a Works (.wps) file (Turnitin.com does not accept Works files). Click here for help on saving a Works document as a Word file. Deduction: 1 point per day.
- Annotated Bibliography—3
points. The purpose of this is to explore the major literature
associated with your topic and to refine your specific proposal. Minimum 8 references
in addition to class texts (1 point deduction from project for each reference, beyond
half, not used). In your "annotation", provide 1) a brief description
of the literature, and 2) a discussion of why it is relevant to your
work. Your references should be limited to MAJOR academic literature in the field (not just ANY literature—no newspaper or magazine articles for this part of your project). Use your texts as guides (Check endnotes and references).
- Annotated Outline (2 page minimum)—2 points. The annotated outline is a formally ordered, descriptive account of each of the
specific sections (see component #3, below, for a general outline) of your project. In other words, you will explain each section of your project. NOTES: 1) Be concise, don't overplan—an outline of 20+ sections for an 18-page paper (i.e., less than one page per section) is not a good sign! 2) You must discuss how you will use the sources covered in your annotated bibliography.
- Project—10 points. You must divide your project
into sections. Groups must assign each section to a particular person:
Sections (You need not have these exact headings, but you must have similar sections with some heading):
- Introduction: What is your topic? Why did you select it? Why should anyone care? 2-4 pages.
- Background/History: Provide readers with relevant history and context. Concentrate on consideration #1 (discussed above). 5-8 pages.
- Analysis: Concentrate on consideration #2 (discussed above). Apply our class (don't just repeat—build!). 3-8 pages.
- Conclusion: Wrap up (but do not just summarize...). What did you learn? Does it differ in any way from what we've learned in class? 2-4 pages.
- Bibliography: Minimum of 12 references
in addition to class texts, and at
least 4 from academic books or refereed academic journals. All
references must be cited in the project. At minimum, 50% of your references must be print (non-internet) references (online resources that also appear in print
may count as print references if they are properly cited as such).
- Presentation—10 points. Presentations will be 10 to 20 minutes, depending upon the number of projects. You must provide an outline page for class—one class prior to your presentation. Presentations are class activities—two points of everyone's class participation will be determined during presentations.
- Revision—10 points. Make significant use of feedback from me (on your project and presentation), and the from the class (on your presentation). You must make revisions to maintain your grade. A revision that is identical to,
or substantially similar to, the project you submitted earlier will
receive a lower grade. All prior project requirements apply to your revision as well.