GOVT 2306 Unit 8


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Unit 8: Local Government in Texas



A.  Read the following selections from the Margin Notes by clicking on each link.


B.  Watch these presentations. When you click on one of the links below, a new screen will pop up. Use the scrollbar on the side of the new screen to navigate. You need Adobe Reader to view PDF files.HELP MESSAGE


C.  (Optional) Read the following chapters from the textbook.

Chapters 11 - 12


D.  The following Optional Links are designed to help you do better in your course but they are not required.


E.  Project: Polling Public Opinion (20 points)To Do Note

For your project, you must create, administer and tabulate the results of a public opinion poll by working through each of the steps below.

If you feel the need for some background from the experts, visit Survey USA, Polling Report, Gallup, Pew Research or any nationally-ranked polling company of your choice.

Please don't try to short-cut the steps below or you'll have problems trying to write the analysis at the end. It won't take you long to work through the steps leading up to your poll but it IS important that you take the time to really think about the decisions below.


What is your topic?

According to The Texas Lyceum the following are currently the top ten most important issues to Texas voters. Choose one of those issues to be the topic of your opinion poll.

the economy

national security/terrorism


war (unspecified)

political corruption/leadership

Middle East unrest

health care


national debt

border security

As you probably noticed, each of the topics is very broad. Now that you have chosen one of the topics, decide what specifically you want to ask about that topic. In other words, narrow your focus so your questions and results will be specific enough to be of use. What exactly do you want to find out about your chosen topic?


What questions are you asking?

Write a minimum of 20 questions for your survey.

Decide the kind of questions you will use. Are you going to use closed-ended questions (yes or no, for example), open-ended questions (what do you think about...) or a mix of the two? Open-ended questions usually provide more specific information but it's really difficult to compare the responses since there's no limit to how people can respond. Closed-ended questions limit responses to those responses you provide -- "should schools __ ... yes or no." Respondents can only give a "yes" response or a "no" response. That limits the responses but it also makes it easier for you to compare them ... "yes-5, no-15."

Your questions may all be about the topic or some of your questions may ask for information not related to your topic but that you believe will be interesting when compared to opinions on the topic -- for example, respondents' sex, age, ethnic group or etc. Demographic questions allow you to compare the responses on topic questions. For example, whether men and women respond differently to questions about unemployment or whether young and old respond differently to questions about education. The majority of your questions must be topic questions. Whether or not you include a few demographic questions is up to you. When writing your questions, it's important to think about what kind of data you want. Are there answers you want to compare -- do men and women answer differently on question __. If you use open-ended questions, how are you going to compare those responses?

Critique the wording of your questions. Are any of your questions leading rather than neutral? Do any of your questions use emotion-laded or controversial words or phrases that might push respondents to one answer or the other? Continue rewording your questions until they are all as neutral, value-free and nonbiased as you can make them. For some help with this, look at Six Rules for Writing Survey Questions. (The link is under Optional Links above.)


How will you administer your survey?

Choose one method for administering your survey -- verbally by phone, verbally in person (you verbally ask respondents for their answers), written in person (you give respondents the written questions and ask them to mark their answers) or another method. (Please do not administer your survey online or through email since such surveys are -- by definition -- not random sample surveys and so are not representative of your population.)

Please do not administer your survey in a place where you well known such as at work or church. Since the people at such places know you, you can never be confident that their responses are honest.

Any place that provides anonymity and has a high traffic volume works well -- malls, shopping centers, stores (with prior permission from the manager), schools and etc. If choosing a single-purpose site, such as a school, ask yourself if the likely population you’ll be polling will be appropriate to your topic and questions.

Phone surveys and, to a lesser extent, verbal in-person surveys should have a script you can follow so you won't inadvertently express bias to your respondents. Written surveys require no script but the survey given to respondents must be neat, simple to understand and legible. (Always check your spelling and grammar in advance!)

Once you've decided on the method you will use to administer the survey, decide how you will choose which people to survey. You are responsible for administering the survey to a minimum of 20 respondents.

If calling by phone, will you call 1 person whose last name starts with a different letter of the alphabet - one A name, one B name, etc? If administering the survey in person, will you approach the first 20 people you see and continue until 20 have agreed to take the survey?

Most students find that administering a written survey in a public place is the easiest method ... even if it's a little scary at first. If you choose this method, keep a few things in mind.

Make certain your survey uses correct spelling and grammar, is neat and makes sense. (Test it on a friend first.)

Take extra copies of your survey and several pens or pencils. Borrow a couple of clipboards if you can.

Not everyone will participate so don't take it personally.

Most people will participate if you tell them it's a class assignment.

Always say "thank you."


Write an analysis of your results that addresses all of the following.

Once you have completed your survey, analyze the data ... look for patterns, surprises, similarities and etc in the responses.

Be careful to address all of the topics below. Your analysis should be thorough, specific, include relevant concepts from the course material and be free of spelling and grammar errors.

A. the specific questions in your survey and the responses to each


Put the specific 20 questions and responses in a table or a list separate from the discussion below so it is easy to see what questions you asked and the responses you received. Responses should be raw numbers, not percents, e.g. yes 15, no 5 ... not yes 75%, no 25%. In other words, I want to see how each of your respondents answered.

B. your decisions and rationales in the steps above

the kinds of questions you asked and why, how you administered your survey and why, etc

C. any problems you had administering the survey including unanticipated problems coming from the decisions you made

D. an objective analysis of your data and what those data tell you about public opinion and your topic

You are welcome to use percents in the discussion and there's no need to discuss every question. Spend your time discussing those responses you found most interesting. However, your analysis of the data should comprise the majority of your report. A report that consists of long discussions covering B and C above with a few sentences of analysis tacked on at the end, won't earn many points.

E. specific and detailed connections to course content

This is your last chance before I assign course grades to show me how much you've learned. Make the most of it!


Project Submission Instructions

By the deadline shown in the Course Schedule on the main page of the syllabus:

  • Send your questions, responses and analysis in the body of a new email to

  • Put only your name and Project at the beginning of your email.

  • Be careful to use the correct subject line.

  • Late projects lose one point per day late, including weekends and holidays.

A NOTE OF CAUTION: This is a 20-point comprehensive assignment ... the detail and thoroughness of your response should reflect that additional weight.

Proofread your work for spelling and grammar errors and make corrections where necessary.





Course EvaluationTo Do Note

While the benefit you gain from your courses is ultimately up to you, all faculty members take seriously the responsibility for facilitating student learning. Faculty members desire students’ honest opinions to help improve instruction and to help verify the positive aspects of instruction. Creating online courses is extremely labor-intensive and time-consuming and all online faculty members value thoughtful feedback.

I’ve modified a short face-to-face student evaluation for online student use and strongly encourage you to participate. The answers from each completed evaluation are electronically submitted to a results file that is never publically accessible. Because no login is required to complete the evaluation, it is impossible to identify who completed a specific evaluation. The only information associated with an individual evaluation (as a method of weeding out bogus evaluations) is the date and time it was submitted.

To begin, go to the Student Course Evaluation page and follow the directions. Take care to choose the correct course and semester. Too, remember that your course is an online course and should be compared to other online courses you've taken, not to face-to-face courses. If the course you are evaluating is your first online course, compare it to your realistic expectations of an online course.

The evaluation will be available at the link above two weeks prior to your final exam and will remain available for one week following your final.  The evaluation only takes about 10 minutes to complete but the feedback you provide will be invaluable … I really do use student feedback to help improve my courses!





Final Exam (20 points)To Do Note

The final exam has 40 multiple-choice questions. Each question is worth one-half point. There is a comprehensive review for the final on the Final Exam Review page, linked off of the main page of the syllabus.

The final exam is an online exam.  You must read the instructions for the final exam before taking it. The instructions are on the main page of your syllabus just below the Course Schedule.

Please note that students taking the final exam online must complete the exam by the deadline shown in the Course Schedule on the main page of the syllabus. The deadline gives you the maximum possible amount of time to take the exam but it allows NO margin of error since grades are due. If you miss that deadline, regardless of the reason, you will not be able to take a make-up exam. I strongly encourage you to take it early rather than risking damage to your grade by waiting until the last minute.



Copyright 1996 Amy S Glenn    
Last updated:   04/02/2017   0430

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