Intro to Economics - Hybrid - Structured Inquiry Lesson Plan

Launch students into a progressing toward a challenging goal question through this in-class research activity.

Introduction to Plan

You'll be contextualizing a societal problem and launch students into research that will help them to determine a nascent economic perspective on the topic.

Learning Goals for Students:

  • Encounter current events topics related to economic policy, analysis, affairs, problems
  • Ask research questions and find resources in pursuit of a goal
  • Form a nascent economic opinion and name the needed next steps to solidify it

Instructor Preparation:

  1. Decide on current events topic
  2. Write yes/no project question that reveals an economic perspective on the topic and that can sustain three weeks of student research (e.g., “Should cannabis be legalized in Illinois?”)
  3. Choose a content burst on the topic
    • This could be an engaging video, work of art, primary source or other media that illustrates the problem and spurs student conversation.
  4. Notify students students before class to bring devices to each in-person class to conduct research in groups.

In-Class Lesson (Process) Plan:

  • (5 min) Introduce Topic & Goal Question

    • Goal Question Formula: “This is a historic time with the [current event topic]. But [problem related to current event topic]. So, the question is [Goal Question]. In teams, I want you to gather and discuss information on this topic so that you can begin to form an economic perspective that would allow you to answer the Goal Question with yes or no."
  • (10 min) Provide content burst

    • This could be a 10-15 minute mini-lecture or video to set a foundation of understanding for the class.
  • (5 min) Students submit their Natural Next Questions

    • “Now, let’s gather information that will help us to respond yes/no to the goal question from an economic perspective. We can start by asking the questions that we would need to answer to be able to do so. We might call these ‘Natural Next Questions’ or ‘NNQs.”

    • As a class, students add their NNQs into the Beagle Learning platform. If you're not using Beagle, this can be done in a Google form.

    • Break students into teams of 3-5 (groupings can be random).

Students complete research (face-to-face)

  • (5 min) Form research groups

    • Inform students of groupmates at first class meeting for structured inquiry;
    • Set up meeting space for groups (Rachel can support)
  • (30 min) Flash research on NNQs

  • (20 min) Each person finds a resource that responds to their NNQ and produces a two-sentence summary in Beagle Learning. If you're not using Beagle, you can have students submit their summaries as an assignment directly into your Learning Management System (e.g. Canvas).

  • (10 min) Teams come together to discuss findings. Each student has two minutes to share the NNQ they answered and a brief summary.

  • (15 min) Reflection/Next Steps

    • Each student decides if they would answer “yes” or “no” to the Goal Question and names their percentage of certainty for their yes/no.
  • Then, that person says what they would need to move closer to 100% certainty.

    • E.g., “Based on what I just heard, I would respond yes to the Goal Question, but I am only 20% sure. I would need to see more research on X and Y to be able to feel more confident about my response of ‘yes.’ It's possible that after I see X and Y and may shift my response to ‘no.’"

After class homework

  • Due 24 hours after the class session
  • Students complete their Research Summary assignments (adding their yes/no and percentage of certainty) and a sentence about how the discussion went.

If school goes 100% online

  • In class research session ceases; we add a Beagle Discussion Assignment to replace it.
  • Students complete Beagle Research Summary as homework.


  • Attendance
  • Completion grade for in-class research:
    • 1 Goal Question assignment
    • 3 Research Summary assignments
      • Includes note of how the discussion went