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Collaborative Learning in Course Simulations
Unformatted Document Text:  Van Vechten, 15 you will be assigned a member role, district, and party affiliation (see Blackboard’s Assignment area for Member Selection Worksheet). You will be graded on your participation, which includes completing worksheets, your attendance, ongoing activities such as bill revisions and committee reports, and subjective evaluations of your involvement by the professor and your peers. Assignments will be related to the scheduled in-class activities, such as preparing committee reports. You will also be evaluated on your ability to “realistically” portray your member (i.e. fulfill your role in a reasonably believable manner), which means I will be watching how you respond to the opportunities and constraints imposed by situations that arise. You will also be evaluated on your effectiveness throughout the exercise, which is equated with your ability to accomplish specified goals in class. This does not refer to your ultimate ability to get your own bill passed, but refers instead to the amount of time and effort you invest in the course. Be it in voting records, role prep, attendance records, or general interest level, you are expected to act out your role with gusto. The simulation works best when you are fully prepared and actively participating, and passive or lazy students will have a markedly negative impact on the simulation by slowing it down, stressing out fellow members, or making the simulation less enjoyable. Out of respect for your peers, please make it worth the effort! Note that attendance is required during ALL simulation activities even if your character has nothing to do during that portion of the simulation. Finally, unethical behavior will be prosecuted (the result will be suspension from floor activities)! Short Papers Based on the Simulation (30% combined): Integral to the simulation are three assignments that will enlarge your understanding of your role. PROFILE (15%) Instructions for both are included below, as is a list of helpful resources on Congress. The first paper will be a profile, written as an autobiography, which essentially proposes your participation in the simulation. It needs to include your personal background information, a description of your assigned congressional district and its constituency, an outline for the effective representation of your constituency, and the goals you hope to accomplish. Specific criteria are listed in the assignment. (Note: this assignment approximates the outline in the Bell text, but goes beyond it – so don’t rely on page 28 for actual guidelines). BILL/JUSTIFICATION/DEAR COLLEAGUE LETTER (10%): You will either select an actual bill that your member has authored or sponsored, or write one, and then introduce it into Congress. Along with the bill, you will complete a one-page justification explaining why you’ve settled on this particular issue. The final piece of this exercise involves composing a “Dear Colleague” letter, in which you will try to convince your colleagues to support your bill. EVALUATION PAPER (5%): The final paper (4-8 pages) consists of an evaluation of your “simulated” experience. This is not intended to be a summary or review, but a chance to analyze (compare/contrast) an element of your experience in light of what you have learned about the actual U.S. Congress. GENERAL PARTICIPATION & OCCASIONAL QUIZZES: 10% Participation in general class discussion is critical – not only for your understanding, but also to prevent you from falling into a catatonic state. You should be able to critically analyze course readings about the functioning of Congress, which is laid out well in the textbook, Congress and Its Members. Readings in the Dodd and Oppenheimer collection are chosen to provoke interesting discussion about the legislative process and contemporary issues, some of which will be reflected in current events. Be prepared to participate when called upon, AND to present a formal critique to the class on at least one article/chapter assigned for review in class. To give you an incentive to keep up with the reading, occasional quizzes will be given.

Authors: Van Vechten, Renee.
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Van Vechten, 15
you will be assigned a member role, district, and party affiliation (see Blackboard’s Assignment
area for Member Selection Worksheet). You will be graded on your participation, which
includes completing worksheets, your attendance, ongoing activities such as bill revisions and
committee reports, and subjective evaluations of your involvement by the professor and your
peers. Assignments will be related to the scheduled in-class activities, such as preparing
committee reports. You will also be evaluated on your ability to “realistically” portray your
member (i.e. fulfill your role in a reasonably believable manner), which means I will be watching
how you respond to the opportunities and constraints imposed by situations that arise. You will
also be evaluated on your effectiveness throughout the exercise, which is equated with your
ability to accomplish specified goals in class. This does not refer to your ultimate ability to get
your own bill passed, but refers instead to the amount of time and effort you invest in the course.
Be it in voting records, role prep, attendance records, or general interest level, you are expected
to act out your role with gusto. The simulation works best when you are fully prepared and
actively participating, and passive or lazy students will have a markedly negative impact on the
simulation by slowing it down, stressing out fellow members, or making the simulation less
enjoyable. Out of respect for your peers, please make it worth the effort! Note that attendance
is required during ALL simulation activities even if your character has nothing to do during that
portion of the simulation. Finally, unethical behavior will be prosecuted (the result will be
suspension from floor activities)!
Short Papers Based on the Simulation (30% combined): Integral to the simulation are
three assignments that will enlarge your understanding of your role.
PROFILE (15%) Instructions for both are included below, as is a list of helpful
resources on Congress. The first paper will be a profile, written as an autobiography, which
essentially proposes your participation in the simulation. It needs to include your personal
background information, a description of your assigned congressional district and its
constituency, an outline for the effective representation of your constituency, and the goals
you hope to accomplish. Specific criteria are listed in the assignment. (Note: this
assignment approximates the outline in the Bell text, but goes beyond it – so don’t rely on
page 28 for actual guidelines).
BILL/JUSTIFICATION/DEAR COLLEAGUE LETTER (10%): You will either
select an actual bill that your member has authored or sponsored, or write one, and then
introduce it into Congress. Along with the bill, you will complete a one-page justification
explaining why you’ve settled on this particular issue. The final piece of this exercise
involves composing a “Dear Colleague” letter, in which you will try to convince your
colleagues to support your bill.
EVALUATION PAPER (5%): The final paper (4-8 pages) consists of an evaluation of
your “simulated” experience. This is not intended to be a summary or review, but a chance
to analyze (compare/contrast) an element of your experience in light of what you have
learned about the actual U.S. Congress.
GENERAL PARTICIPATION & OCCASIONAL QUIZZES: 10%
Participation in general class discussion is critical – not only for your understanding, but also
to prevent you from falling into a catatonic state. You should be able to critically analyze course
readings about the functioning of Congress, which is laid out well in the textbook, Congress and
Its Members. Readings in the Dodd and Oppenheimer collection are chosen to provoke
interesting discussion about the legislative process and contemporary issues, some of which will
be reflected in current events. Be prepared to participate when called upon, AND to present a
formal critique to the class on at least one article/chapter assigned for review in class. To give
you an incentive to keep up with the reading, occasional quizzes will be given.


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