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POLISC 150 - Introduction to American Government and Politics - Phil Gussin

Course:Introduction to American Government and Politics
Professor:Phil Gussin
  • Online
Course Length:
  • Applies to All Course Lengths


When I designed this course, I wanted students in my online classes to experience something similar to what happens in my face-to-face classes. To do that, I videotaped all of my lectures in 10 to 15-minute segments. When I was done, there were more than 120 videos on a variety of subjects related to American and California government. In many online classes, most of the material presented is text. In this class, while you still have to read the textbook, you MUST watch the lecture videos in order to succeed. When I grade answers to the essay questions on the exams, I look for specifically for information from the lecture videos. Since I have a unique take on most subjects, it is obvious when students rely on information from other sources. Therefore, the most important thing prospective students should know about this class is that they must watch the lecture videos. Based on past comments, students find the videos both informative and somewhat entertaining. 


Course Description

The class covers a wide range of topics related to American and California government.

What to Expect in this Course

In past evaluations, students indicate that the workload is reasonable. One thing worth noting is that I do not have a lot of due dates. My class is structured in a way that allows students to set their own pace. For students who have other obligations and responsibilities (e.g., work, children, caring for siblings/parents), this feature of the class is extremely helpful. For students who have a tendency to put off assignments until the last minute, the lack of due dates can create problems. If you have a tendency to procrastinate, this class might not be right for you. Alternatively, it might be a good opportunity to start working on that particular issue. 

Types of Assessments

There are 15 quizzes based on the readings in the textbook. For each chapter, I provide 25 questions. The quizzes randomly select 10 of the 25 questions. Student can take each quiz twice. When calculating grades, I drop the five lowest quizzes. There are discussion board posts for each set of lecture videos. There are two exams. Most of the points on the exams (80%) are based on essay questions related to the information presented in the lecture videos. This is why it is essential to watch the lecture videos.   

Textbook Information


The textbook for this class is actually two books in one. The first book, which focuses on the federal government, is title “We The People” by Ginsberg, et al. The second book, which focuses on California government, is titled “Governing California” by Anagnoson, et al. You can purchase the book at the COC Bookstore. ISBN 13 : 9781324022435

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: 05/27/2022 Sub#: 1373