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American Government POL 1110-Auditori


Political Connections Portfolio

Pol 1110: American Government • Fall 2022

Overview: You will identify a topic that interests you, and one that is a shared interest among some classmates. During the semester, you will work with your “thought group” to discuss how course material and current events connect with your topic. You will then create a portfolio of eight reports that include news (not opinion) articles that address connections between your topic and course material, and 250-300 word critical reflections that explore these connections. This project will take the place of a final, cumulative exam.

Objective: You will come to recognize that government and politics affect most every aspect of our lives, and to critically think about connections that exist between your chosen topic and government/politics. You will be able to make connections with a historical lens, through an understanding of government institutions and actors, and with consideration of the complex processes that exist within our government.

Audience: Imagine that you are working in the field that you’ve chosen (your topic), and that you are tasked with assessing the impact of politics and government on your field. You occasionally collaborate with colleagues in your field (your “thought group”); these colleagues, however, work for other companies or agencies. So, you must produce individual work for your supervisor based on your discussions with others. Your portfolio will consist of reports written for your supervisor, whom you may assume to have the same knowledge from this course as you do. (For example, you don’t need to discuss the history of federalism or describe how a bill becomes law.)

Requirements: By the time you begin work on this portfolio, you will have already considered and confirmed a topic of interest and become part of a “thought group.” Now you’re ready to start creating your first report…

  1. With your thought group, brainstorm any perceived ways that your topic may be connected to government and politics. You’ll want to revisit many of those ideas later, as well as continue to brainstorm throughout the semester.

  1. Now, think about what we’ve learned and discussed in class so far, and look for a current (2022) news article (not opinion piece) that addresses a connection you’ve made between the topic and course material covered up to this point.

  1. Then, write a 250-300 word report that identifies and explains the connections that you make between your topic, thew news article, and our class. You should not try to write a report on course material that we have not yet covered!

Your report must include the title of the news article, a clickable link to a news article; your writing that explores the connection between the news article, course material, and your topic; and at least one reference to course material using in-text citations.

Format example* (please note that each entry must be numbered, and the article title must be included along with the link):

  1. (Article title) “White Claw Lobbies White House to Lower the National Drinking Age”

(Report) This article discusses how the adult beverage industry has gone straight to the top to lobby for lowering the drinking age in the United States, which could have a significant effect on the social well-being of college students. The beverage industry’s decision to go to the president with this effort demonstrates the role that the president has in legislative lobbying; presidents “encourage or cajole Congress to pass key pieces of their legislative agenda.” (Abernathy, 2022, p. 351)…

Include at least one source from our course material in each report (can be Abernathy, a video we watched in class, a podcast we listened to, etc.). Use in-text citations to reference that source.

  1. Do this again… and again… until you have eight.

*This is a made-up example.

Articles must be current (published in 2022) and be from credible sources.

What is a credible source? A source with little bias and with information based in accepted facts is more credible than a source with blatant bias and based in questionable facts. (All news has some bias; it’s important to recognize those biases and to at least know where to find more credible news sources.)

What I don’t want:

a summary of the news article

an editorial or opinion piece to be used as the news article

your opinion about the topic


What I do want:

  1. a recent news article from a credible source
  2. a report that explores the connection between course material, the article, and your topic
  3. at least one reference to course material using in-text citations

The syllabus identifies “Political Connections Portfolio work + share” days, which are class days with some time (not an entire class) for working with your thought group to discuss, research, read, and write.

You will also need to spend time outside of class working on your portfolio.


You submit one report. I provide feedback* and return it to you. You revise and resubmit your report. We repeat this cycle until your report meets the standards noted in the chart below. You repeat this process until you have completed the number of reports that correspond with the number of points that you want to get for your portfolio.

*I will provide feedback on your report that is congruent with what I perceive you to have put into the work. In other words, if you submit a poorly written report with thoughtless content, grammatical errors, sloppy formatting, and typos, I will return it with very little feedback. Please take advantage of the Writing Center if you feel you need help learning to be a strong writer.

I never grade a report. Either it has met the standards, or it needs more work.

The entire portfolio is worth up to 35 points of your final grade. Each report is worth 4 points, so if you fully complete one report—meaning that I’ve returned it to you without any more revisions required, then you’ll receive 4 of the 35 points. There is no partial credit (if you submit a report that needs revisions, you get no initial credit).

Once I have returned a report to you without any more revisions required, then you may submit another report. You may only submit one new report at a time, taking into consideration the feedback from previous reports. Your new report must, however, be on the same document as your previous report(s).

4 points x 8 reports = 32. What about the other 3 points?

In assigning these 3 points, I will assess your complete portfolio on the following:

  1. Your growth in the level of insight that you gained about political and governmental connections to your topic,
  2. The breadth and variety of your reports, and
  3. The perceived effort that you put into these reports—how much you challenged yourself and expanded your boundaries when it comes to thinking about political and governmental connections to your topic, and how well you tie them together with news articles.

Once you submit a report, I will return it to you with feedback within 48 hours (not counting weekends). In order to make your way toward reaching the full 35 points, I recommend submitting reports using the following schedule (if multiple revisions are necessary, this schedule may not be achievable):

Sept. 12: report #1 (required)

Sept. 23: #2

Oct. 3: #3

Oct. 12: #4

Oct. 24: #5

Nov. 2: #6

Nov. 11: #7

Nov. 28: #8


  • Portfolio report #1 due Monday, September 12th before midnight. This is the only report that has a required due date.
  • You must submit all reports on Moodle as a word doc. You will receive all feedback on your word doc, which will be shared with you via Moodle, within 48 hours.
  • Your reports must be double-spaced and written in a semi-formal tone (no slang, no first person, occasional contractions are okay).
  • Each report must include at least one source from our course material (e.g., textbook, podcast, video watched in class, slide). Of course, you may additionally reference other credible sources.
  • Use APA style formatting for your in-text citations.
  • Final portfolio writing due date is noted on the syllabus (in lieu of a final exam). Submit on Moodle.


This chart is designed to help you understand the standards that you’ll need to meet before you can move to your next report.



Your work demonstrates that you understand a connection between your topic, a news article, and course material

You reference a credible news article (not an opinion piece)


You explain the connection between your topic, a news article, and course material clearly and in detail

You demonstrate critical thinking skills with in-depth analysis and insight

Your report is well-organized and easy to follow

Your writing is clear and concise

Evidence + support                                         

You include one+ course material source in each report

Additional sources (if used) are well-vetted (credible, relevant)

All sources (including course materials) are properly referenced using APA style formatting for in-text citations


You include all components of the assignment (title of news article, link to news article, report making the connections, and a reference to course material in your report

Your reports are 250-300 words each

You are prepared to share your work along the way

You submit your reports on Moodle in a timely fashion (not waiting until the end of the semester to complete a number of them)

Your writing is publication-ready (free of typos, misspellings, and grammatical errors)