Skip to main contentSkip to footer

POSC 150 - Introduction to American and California Government - Lena Smyth

Course:Introduction to American and California Government
Professor:Lena Smyth
  • Online
Course Length:
  • Applies to All Course Lengths


Textbook Covers

I have been teaching American and California Government at College of the Canyons since 2008.  I enjoy exploring current political issues with students in order to better understand the political process.  I do not impose my political views and I think critical thinking is imperative.  I have a particular expertise with California Government.  

Course Description

This course is an introduction to American and California Government.  Students will learn the functions of the three branches of government as well as the influence of political parties, interest groups, and the media on those functions.   We will also examine democracy and the role of the U.S. and state constitutions. 

What to Expect in this Course

There are 12 lessons for this course that will be posted in the Modules section of the course in Canvas.  Each module will contain assignments and quizzes worth 20-30 points per lesson (depending on the reading assigned).  Additionally, throughout the semester students must also respond to periodic discussion board threads in which critical thinking questions related to current events and the readings will be asked (worth 10 points each).  There will also be a 1200 word minimum term paper on current events as well as a midterm and final worth 100 points each (short term and summer sessions will have one cumulative final exam worth 200 points).  Students will need a webcam because all tests will be taken online using Proctorio which is accessible through Google Chrome (tablets will not work).  

Types of Assessments

Weekly multiple choice quizzes, written term paper, discussion board, and proctored exams (taken online).  

Textbook Information

The Political Science department has adopted a “custom textbook” to reduce costs for students.  It is only available in the COC Bookstore.  It is essentially made up of the following 2 textbooks (bound together):

  1. We the People- An Introduction to American Politics  (13th Edition)                                                   
    by Benjamin Ginsberg, Theodore J. Lowi, Margaret Weir (Norton)       

     2.  Governing California (8th Edition) by J. Theodore Anagnoson (Norton)                                   

If you choose not to purchase from the bookstore you can use the individual texts as well. 

Other Relevant Course Information

Online courses do require more self motivation than face-to-face classes.  Please be mindful of this and take the time now to schedule yourself the appropriate time for each lesson and assignment. 

Additional Resources


This course can be accessed on the first day of class via Canvas at Log into Canvas using your CanyonsID single sign-on:

  • CanyonsID Username is your COC student email address (Ex:
  • CanyonsID Password is your COC student email password

Please visit the Get to Know Your Online Classroom page for help logging into Canvas and for tips on using Canvas and Zoom. Canvas Chat Support is also available 24/7 for any Canvas related issues.

Online Education

Check out the Online Education website for more information on a variety of topics that can help you be a successful online student such as: exam proctoring, learning styles, computer skills, and tips for student success. If this is your first online course, feel free to take our online learning readiness assessment to assess your skills.

The Learning Center (TLC)

The TLC provides FREE online tutoring resources to COC students!

Academic Accommodation Center (AAC)

College of the Canyons AAC provides educational services and access for eligible students with documented disabilities who intend to pursue coursework at COC. A variety of programs and services are available which afford eligible students with disabilities the opportunity to participate fully in all aspects of the college programs and activities through appropriate and reasonable accommodations. For more information on their services visit the Academic Accomodation Center website.

Online Counseling

The Counseling Department offers appointments online. You can schedule an appointment by visiting the Online Counseling website. Counselors can help you map out a plan to reach your educational goals as well as advise you on course selection and registration.

Management of Stress and Mental Health

Often the pressure on our students is very strong, involving academic commitments, relationships, outside jobs and family pressure to name a few. The staff and faculty of College of the Canyons are here to see you succeed academically and care about your emotional and physical health. You can learn more about the broad range of confidential student services, including counseling and mental health services available on campus by visiting the Student Health & Wellness Center in the Student Services Building (across from the bookstore). The phone number is 661-362-3259 that you can call 24/7. You can also e mail for an appointment at At the Canyon Country Campus the Health Center will be in the new Student Services Building.

Also, the National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline number is now 988. All students at COC are encouraged to enter that phone number in their cells. You can call it when you, or someone you know, is having thoughts of suicide or is in severe distress.

You can also now use the Crisis Text Line: Just text "Courage" to 741741. Someone will get back to you immediately. Its free, 24/7, and confidential.

Veterans Resource Center

The College of the Canyons Veterans Resource Center is a department within the Student Services Division at the college, created to help veterans and veteran dependents with applying to College of the Canyons, enrolling in classes, and requesting VA Education or Vocational Benefits. For more information please visit the Veterans Resource Center website, email or phone (661) 362-3469.


The Library provides live online and in-person research help, access to a full range of e-resources and physical materials that support the curriculum, individual and group study areas, and much more!

Last updated: 11/04/2021 Sub#: 1130