Assignments & Grading for Spring 2011


Coursework will be weighted as follows:
1. Classroom Engagement (20 pts)
2. Midterm (20 pts)
3. Final Exam (30 pts)
4. Research Paper (30 pts)
Total: 100 pts

The Grading Scale
I will be using the following grading scale in this course:

98-100 A+
94-97 A
90-93 A-
87-89 B+
84-86 B
80-83 B-
77-79 C+
74-76 C
70 – 73 C-
69/below D
59/below F

Note on Late Assignments:
Late assignments will be graded down 5 points for each day late, to a maximum of 50% off the credit for the assignment. No matter how late an assignment is, it will always be worth submitting (you can always get up to 50% credit).


1. Classroom Engagement: Participation, Attendance, Blog (20%)

This course requires not only attendance but also active participation. This entails doing the readings before class, thinking critically about them and the topics we are discussing. Active participation can significantly help your grade in the course, non-participation can significantly lower your grade, and non-attendance WILL significantly lower your grade.

Attendance and active participation

  1. You must attend class. Think of it as if you are a pilot learning to fly. You have to put in a number of hours in the cockpit to qualify.
  2. You must be active in class. This can take a variety of forms, including: speaking in class, asking questions, emailing me questions, and participating on the course blog.
  3. You can miss two classes without any serious consequence. If you miss more than 5 classes you will receive no credit for classroom engagement.

Course Blog Reading Reactions

You are responsible for 8 blog posts over the course of the term.

Each blog post should contain a reaction to one or more of the assigned readings.  There is no minimum or maximum for the length of the post.  It can be very short (a sentence or two, a poignant question raised from the material) as long as it demonstrates that you did more than skim the introduction.  These are merely graded on whether you made a meaningful attempt to blog (credit) or did not (no credit). There is no extra credit for writing extensively long posts.  I do not want this to become a burden!

These posts must be entered PRIOR to the class for that day’s readings.

You may want to see this as an opportunity to prep for the exams and stay on top of the extensive material.

I also encourage you to read the blog prior to class, as it may have information that is useful for that day’s lecture and discussion.

You may post extra blog posts (but the quality should be high) for extra participation credit.


2. Midterm Exam (20%)

Exam will consist of three parts: ID, Short Answer, and Essay.

March 3rd, in-class.


3. Final Exam (30%)

Exam will consist of three parts: ID, Short Answer, and Essay.

TENTATIVE time: Thursday, May 12,  2 – 5 pm


4. Policy Paper (30%)

Your policy paper grade includes performance on the following assignments:

  • Policy Paper Proposal
  • Policy Paper Rough Draft
  • Policy Paper Peer Review
  • Policy Paper Final Draft

Policy Paper Proposal

You will prepare a one-page description of your proposed policy question.  The question should be substantively interesting and relevant.  Moreover, it should be a question that can be answered using evidence, given the time and resource constraints of the course.  You should be prepared to discuss your question during the class session.

1. Length: 300 words (include word count)
2. Include the following information:

  • State the main policy question you plan to answer.
  • Identify your audience (whose policies do you want to influence?)
  • Briefly explain why it is important.
  • List 2 sources you might use

3. Email document to the professor
4. Due FRIDAY, February 11 @ 5 pm

Policy Paper Rough Draft & Peer Review

1. Email the professor one copy.
2. Bring 1 copy to class for peer editing.
3. Due April 7.

Policy Paper Final Draft

1. Email the professor one copy.
2. Due April 22
3. Length: 5000 words (include word count on the last page)

In writing the paper, you must do the following things:

  • Clearly articulate a central question.
  • Clearly articulate your answer to the question. These are argumentative papers.
  • Explain the significance of the question.
  • Support your answer.
  • Evaluate alternative answers.
  • Use at least 8 outside sources (see note on sources below)
  • Use at least 1 source from class readings.
  • Use concepts from the course. For example: public goods, norms, epistemic community
  • Include a reference section (Does not count as part of your word count.)


Your must include at least one of each of the following sources:
1.    Books
2.    Academic Journals (articles from political science or public policy journals are likely to be most relevant)
3.    Newspapers (it is suggested that you stick to major national papers such as the New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal) or Magazines (again, use major magazines, such as Newsweek or The Economist)
4.    Primary sources:  Government documents, for instance.

DO NOT use these sources:
1.    Wikipedia
2.    Web content which is not from one of the suggested published sources listed above

If you have a question about a source, just ask!

How to cite your sources:
You must use in-text parenthetical citations according to the author-date system described by the Chicago Manual of Style. Directions on citations can be found here:

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