PS 101: The Essay Component / Rubric

Below is rubric for essay grading.


ESSAYS: Each student must write three essays (minimum 3 pages), in study of American government.

The 3 Essay topics:

  1. The constitution /or/ institutions [upload to BB, Essay tab, Essay 1]
  2. Civil rights /or/ civil liberties [Essay 2]
  3. Congress /or/ presidency [Essay 3]

(A) You will create an analytic narrative using one J-Stor article and your textbook according to the topic [Login pipeline, Library tab, Article Databases tab, “J” link, J-Stor]. You will critically evaluate the topic in PAGE 1 of your paper. Page one describes the large issues at stake which makes the research worthwhile. On page two, analyze the article. Why was it worthwhile? What was the evidence to the research question? On page three, indicate your “professional” position on the issue—revealing the implications for state, society, political science, median voter, etc. The essays are worth 50% of your grade. You will have a two week window to submit the paper. No late papers (see A1 -alternate examples-at end).

Each paper is graded on four criteria, which are weighted equally. Good papers will have the following:

(1) quality introduction using the textbook material [3 quotes and what those quotes mean for the reader specific to article’s THESIS]–as a narrative (1-2 pages);

(2) quality analysis of the article [3 quotes and what those quotes mean for the reader specific to article’s THESIS]–as a narrative (1-2 pages);

(3)  IMPLICATIONS, professional discussion-outside quote, (1-2 pages).

(4) quality of writing [grammar, page length, BIBLIOGRAPHY, etc.]. **3 full pages minimum**

Students receive ratings of “good,” “average,” or “poor” for each of the four categories, with 25 points being given for each “good,” 20 points for each “average” score, 15 points for a “poor” and 0 points for incomplete [out of 100].


tutorial on plagiarism, Click HERE.

Or here:

****************PLAGIARISM Tutorial must be completed, PASSED for Essay 1

Documentation attached to end on essay 1 (“Print Screen” on keyboard. Go to word doc and “CTRL V”). Bibliography in APA format (use or another cite place).  Essay must be uploaded to SAFE Assign in BLACKBOARD (BB) –which tests for plagiarism.

A1: Provide the students with essays that you want to read and write about, but are stuck in that to-do pile. For example, for my Fall, 2012, PS 101 class, I provided the following essays as their only choices (pick one of two). I provided an analysis of all of these papers on this blog for my students–so that they could compare what I was looking for from the article’s standpoint to his or her essay. See:

Civil Rights or Civil Liberties

Possible Civil Liberties / Civil Rights Essays to Review: (Choose 1)

Ion Bogdan Vasi and David Strang. Civil Liberty in America: The Diffusion of Municipal Bill of Rights Resolutions after the Passage of the USA PATRIOT Act. American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 114, No. 6 (May 2009), pp. 1716-1764.

Jacquelyn Dowd Hall. The Long Civil Rights Movement and the Political Uses of the Past. The Journal of American History, Vol. 91, No. 4 (Mar., 2005), pp. 1233-1263.

Electoral College and Voting

Possible Essays to Review: (Choose 1)

Lawrence D. Longley and James D. Dana, The Biases of the Electoral College in the 1990s Jr. Polity, Vol. 25, No. 1 (Autumn, 1992), pp. 123-145.

Mark N. Franklin and Wolfgang P. Hirczy. Separated Powers, Divided Government, and Turnout in U. S. Presidential Elections. American Journal of Political Science, Vol. 42, No. 1 (Jan., 1998), pp. 316-326.

Congress and Presidency

Possible Essays to Review: (Choose 1)

Jeremy D. Bailey. The New Unitary Executive and Democratic Theory: The Problem of Alexander Hamilton.  The American Political Science Review, Vol. 102, No. 4 (Nov., 2008), pp. 453-465.

Brandice Canes-Wrone, David W. Brady and John F. Cogan. Out of Step, out of Office: Electoral Accountability and House Members’ Voting.   The American Political Science Review, Vol. 96, No. 1 (Mar., 2002), pp. 127-140.


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