Max Beauregard, HCC Governments 2301 & 2302, page 1
Requirements & Grading Criteria for the Government Term Paper
Use your own words. It is better to have fewer pages of original text than pages of copied material, which is
plagiarism, illegal, and grounds for failure. Use the questions and situations below to help you write your own
opinion so that you can use your own words without copying. This partly an opinion paper, so focus on your
own life and experiences and how the issue affects you. Think of a paper as a scientific exploration of the idea.
Begin with a general idea or problem, research facts to prove your idea, then summarize with the conclusion.
Sometimes ideas or solutions do not work out or they are not as useful as we first imagined. This is not all bad
because the research and evaluation are part of the process of making a group decision to benefit society.
Based on the study, we learn new information and can continue to identify other alternatives that may be better
or more effective for society as a whole.
Each Project is different and will lend itself to a variety of research/writing styles. Quality of your grade stems
from the nature of your Project, so choose a topic wisely that will lend itself to full development of the issues
and processes used in government. The paper is also about your opinion, so present your case carefully.
Defend what you believe with FACTS and solid logic as why it is best for society.
Purpose of the Paper is to expand your understanding of the role of government as it applies to this
topic. This is a government class, so the paper MUST focus on the government context. The paper is
NOT about the topic itself, but the impact of government ON the topic or the impact on people. Learn
something NEW. You may already have some information or an opinion, but explore both sides of the issue,
why it is controversial, and expand the depth of your knowledge with NEW information and more facts. Do
NOT make generalizations or blanket statements of opinion. Ultimately focus on government leaders,
agencies at local, state, and federal levels; the interactions between them; and policies and laws used to enact
regulations or taxes levied to fund these activities.
• Focus on the local situation and problem: city /state. Purpose is to learn about our local community,
and how we and YOU can make it better. Problem solving begins at the neighborhood level because
we can become directly involved to promote change for the better. As the 4th largest city in the country,
Houston is an urban laboratory for most issues that face the country and there are JOBS within the
community to help solve these problems. Researching local agencies will help prepare you for a job
search. Use the newspaper www.chron.com and websites of local agencies for information for your
paper. Purpose of a newspaper is to cover recent issues and developments as government performs
its daily duties; and often it is the only source for recent information. The most important function of a
newspaper is investigative journalism, which is to act as a “watchdog” to expose waste, fraud, and
corruption in government operations.
• One approach is to visit an office and interview a local person (if possible) as a primary source of
information. Review the website of the local agencies to learn how they are governed, funded,
operated. Consider: the mission, numbers of employees, specialization, and how this office is different
than other cities.
• “Connect the Dots.” Purpose of the paper is to expand your understanding of the issues discussed in
class and how they impact your life and our community. Draw parallels between class discussions and
your topic. Focus on the policy, which is the procedure or value system used by people in power to
make decisions affecting the country and community. Recognize the power structure between
Democrats & Republicans as a group, government leaders as people, interest groups, agencies/
departments/institutions, and laws/legislation that regulate and control the policy. Purpose of
government is to solve problems through a set of policies (and ultimately laws) enacted through
consensus (agreement) of the people. Role of the people should be to insure that their government
reflects the wishes of the majority of people. Include how a change in the power structure will affect
government policy and your topic.
Max Beauregard, HCC Governments 2301 & 2302, page 2
Title: this is very important because it defines the context for the topic and stimulates interest for the Reader.
Name, date, course, and class period (time: MW 9:30).
4-6 pages, typed, double spaced or space & half; 12 point font (no tiny fonts please!), no scripts or
difficult to read fonts.
Use spell-check and a Tutor from the Learning Lab. A “second set of eyes” is always useful to
verify that the paper clearly conveys your ideas in a logical manner. Submit your paper online to
http://hccs.askonline.net/ to get professional HCC feedback on the structure and English of your paper.
DE students need to drive to campus or use online tutors. Get someone else in your family or a
friend to read your paper for the proofread.
Do NOT use contractions (don’t, can’t, won’t), slang, or text messaging words.
This is a formal paper and slang and conversational speech are inappropriate. A formal paper is NOT
written like a conversation or daily speech.
Use a college vocabulary, so choose strong, descriptive words to express your ideas!! Do not use
vague, ambiguous words like: good, bad, thing, etc.
Do not make blanket, generalized statements without supporting them with facts.
If you ask a question as part of the narrative, you MUST present an answer for it. Part of your research
is to provide answers and find solutions.
Photos, charts, and graphics are encouraged, but are not substitutes for the minimum pages. Choose
photos that have a message and that are relevant to the topic to strengthen your argument in a visual
manner. All photos need captions to explain why they are relevant and to help emphasize the main
point. Captions should explain WHAT and WHY the photo is being used.
No folder or cover sheet is need, but staple the pages!
No late papers. Standard penalty for late papers is a letter grade lower per late day.
1-2 paragraphs to create the setting. Summarize the general theme, define the problem, and state the
“big picture.” What is your purpose, your goal, and what do you plan to show and prove? How does your
opinion support or differ from public opinion? Begin your paper with information in a general way; then give
specifics to support it.
I chose this topic because …
This situation interests me because….this idea is difficult to believe because…
My career path is …. and this topic is related to it becasue….
I know someone who does this and it is amazing because….
I believe …… because……..this happened to me …….to make me believe it.
My religion teaches me this…so I think……
My family taught me to believe …. but now I have learned…..so my ideas now are evolving to this…….
We change our ideas as we learn new information. Obama and the NAACP “evolved” on the issue of
gay marriage as he met more people affected by discrimination and as he developed a broader
understanding of the issue, especially within the context of civil rights, rather than merely as a religious
I still am not sure about this……….so more research will be needed as I grow and learn more.
There are two sides of thought on this idea, which are….and the people who believe it are……
Body, part 1:
This is the main portion of the paper where you present evidence to support your ideas with FACTS and to
prove your logic. Summarize the general issue and current status. Why is this an issue? What does
mainstream America believe and are their beliefs changing? What can cause a change in public opinion?
What are the groups and the process to bring about change?
Some facts I learned about this topic are……
My research on this topic taught me ……..which I did not know before.
The most interesting aspects of this are……..
These people and groups believe this…….and though I am not sure; I think they are reliable sources so
I will look for additional groups who also believe …….
Max Beauregard, HCC Governments 2301 & 2302, page 3
There are many confusing and conflicting opinions on this, which are…….
In class, we talked about this…….and my topic is similar to it in this way………
I saw this issue reported on the news……
Bias: Are you presenting both sides of the issue or only one? Is the information you present fair, or is
there another perspective? It is acceptable to present one side IF you are aware of it, and that you
know that it IS biased!
Body, part 2: Government actions and operations can take many forms, such as below:
Agencies and Actions: Analyze the government agencies involved, their operations, or any conflict that
affects your issue or topic. What has the government done or not done on this topic (be specific about whether
the topic applies to local, state, or federal level)?
What are the various agencies and departments involved and how do they work together (or NOT?)
and coordinate with each other?
What is the role of education and public awareness on the issue (such as wearing seat belts, DWI or
No Smoking campaigns)? How can these be designed and implemented? Often the government
cannot engage in any other role but educational. Who can pay for these programs? Can volunteers
enhance the efforts? Will they create jobs?
Is more funding for research required? How are the current budget cuts affecting this issue? How can
inadequate funding be overcome? What is the impact of reduced funding on service delivery and the
people? Have there been any scandals or misuse of funds?
Does this affect other countries or create a global situation?
Programs & Incentives:
Problems require both a solution, which is the answer, AND a plan of action or method to solve it. The
solution is achieved through adoption of a public policy, a program, or steps to accomplish a goal that
is the plan of action (procedures manual, rules, or “playbook”). A new program may have to be
developed from scratch, such as Obamacare for health; or there may already be a program or
precedent (accepted and recognized procedure) in place that can be expanded or improved.
Sometimes the government offers an incentive, reward, or tax break to promote a change in behavior
by adopting a new policy to accomplish specific goals. Incentives may be financial, special
recognition/honor, some other form of payback, or preferential treatment (front door parking space, etc.).
Incentives may only be good for a limited time; after which they expire (such as a coupon) or need to be
Who pays and where does the money come from? Everything costs money and requires an
investment, either actual cash or labor (paid or volunteer). With a national mood for lower taxes and
deficit reduction, where will the money come and what are the trade-offs to spend the money anyway?
Trade-offs are consequences, and the “give & take” between two choices. It is a sacrifice now, for a
payback later on. Who will support the additional expenditures? How can you convince others?
Endorsements & Support:
What political parties/ organizations, interest groups (Labor Unions, professional organizations, activist
groups, environmental, etc), celebrities, and individual people support your ideas and why? What other
groups can be persuaded to adopt a similar idea? How can a process be created to educate and
change support for a position?
There are three levels of government: federal, state, and local; each with different geographic authority,
taxation and financial power, and enforcement. Which level of government does your topic fall under
(or overlap); and how do they interact and coordinate with each other? What are the government
agencies and departments at each level that are responsible for this issue? What are their powers,
funding, and means of enforcement? What changes or reform are needed? Rick Perry wants to
eliminate several Cabinet offices? Is this a good idea, or are there new agencies that should be added
Any problem takes time to solve, time to implement, time to educate people of its value with new ideas,
and time to take effect. What is the timeline and is it realistic? Is there a short-term strategy or solution
and something else for the long-term? Often laws are not implemented for several years after passage.
Max Beauregard, HCC Governments 2301 & 2302, page 4
1-2 paragraphs that are a summary of what you have learned. Is the result what you thought; and was it a
success? Did the outcome produce the desired results? What is the future for your topic? This section
confirms your original idea or explains why this is the better solution to the problem. Identify any complications,
“backfires”, unintended consequences, or disasters that may have occurred in your research. What would you
do differently next time? Link the future of your topic to the ideas of the opposing political parties.
Speculate how their ideas and recommendations would change what can happen. What other changes
could or should occur?
I learned this……that I did not know before…..and now I think…….
I asked others about this and they said…….some were experts of my topic and some are not.
I believe this……….but I do not believe this part……
Democracy is about achieving consensus with a majority to support a proposal. What groups of people
in America will support this idea and what groups do not? What is the process to educate and
persuade groups to compromise and accept the positions of the majority?
I learned from the debates that Romney and Republicans believe…….which is different from Obama
and Democrats who believe…… I believe this……
Houston functions under a bipartisan city government, but most local leaders are Democrats. State
government is completely dominated by Republicans, and the US is divided. Thus, policies reflect a
combination of conservative and progressive ideas based on the power structure in place at any given
time. Lobbying is the process to influence governmental policy and decisions by a group with a
special interest, belief, or objective.
How would policies be different if Republicans had won in November 2012?
The consequences of Obama’s re-election and a new Administration on this topic are:
o Think of all the Cabinet members, their power, and roles. Each Cabinet position addresses a
different national problem that needs attention or a solution. If any or all of the Cabinet positions
change, how will that affect the country?
Changing public opinion/attitudes and behavior of the masses of people is difficult, but it can be done
with effective advertising and ‘public service announcements’. Examples include: wearing seat belts,
‘No Smoking’ campaigns, and Houston’s law requiring owners to “pick up their dog’s poop’.
What is the overall future for your topic? What is the importance of educational promotion to make the
public aware of the issue, who will pay, and what action is needed?
References / Sources / Works Cited
Footnotes and a detailed works cited page is not needed, but a general list of sources is required. List all
books, websites, videos, etc. Note the date of the video to show if the episode is recent or out of date. Issues
change constantly as new information comes available. List the producer or network of the videos (if
possible) because they are the sponsors who paid for the research and production. Is there any bias in the
sources that is worthy of noting? (propaganda, etc.)
Tips and Grading Criteria
Thoroughness and depth of your coverage of the concepts or topic.
Amount of time spent on the Project. The “quick & dirty” Projects will be immediately obvious and
will be graded accordingly, i.e. LOW grades! This is an important part of your grade, so budget your
time and resources to insure you do well. I do not spend any more time reading a paper than you
spend writing it. Minimum efforts receives a minimum grade.
Your ability to expand the Project and personalize it to your own interests. Why did you choose this
topic and how will it enhance your understanding of government and/or your career path? Enjoying the
Project is an important part.
Originality and creativity Government is often perceived as dull and boring, so anyway that you can
make it “come alive” will enhance your ability to communicate what you have learned and share it with
others. Include props, handouts, and accessories as you can. Make it fun and educational for the rest
Overall professionalism. The Project should be professional and high-quality; however, this does not
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