The Power of Persuasion

Author: Sylvia Kniest
Lesson adapted from National Conference of State Legislatures at:http://www.ncsl.org/public/trust/lessonp3-h.htm

Time: 2-3 class period
copy Federalist #10 and the Opinion Poll
Materials: Federalist #10 http://www.libertynet.org/~edcivic/fed10.html Opinion Poll on interest groups


Students will discuss what they know about interest groups and the persuasive strategies they use. They will also read Federalist #10 and discuss Madison’s arguments about the dangers of factions.

Students will be able to:
1. Define and identify a type of interest group.
2. Describe some strategies used by interest groups.
3. Identify the positive and negative aspects of interest groups

National Standards For Civics and Government
III-E. How does the American political system provide for choice and opportunities for participation?
V-E. How can citizens take part in civic life?

Resource Websites
http://www.ncsl.org/public/trust/lessonp3-h.htm for copy of opinion poll on interest groups
http://www.libertynet.org/~edcivic/fed10.html for copy of Federalist #10



Day 1
1. Students brainstorm in small groups on the following questions:

a. What is an interest group?
b. What do interest groups do?
c. Name as many interest groups that you can think of.

2. Hold a class discussion on the group’s responses to come up with an accurate definition of an interest group and a description of what interest groups do.

3. Ask students: What are the positive and negative aspects of interest groups?

4. After the discussion, tell the students that they will be learning about the role of interest groups on policy making as well as the types of interest groups that are effective in lobbying policy makers.

5. Hand out Federalist #10. A source for the Federalist Papers is: http://www.libertynet.org/~edcivic/fed10.html

6. Read the article and discuss the following questions in class:

a. What did James Madison say he meant by faction (i.e. Interest group)?
b. What danger to American representative democracy and freedom did Madison believe factions represented?
c. What solution did Madison see to the dangers of factions?
d. Do we still have factions today? What do we call them? What are some examples of modern factions?
e. Modern estimates suggest that there are more than 20,000 interest groups in America today. What would James Madison think of this? Did his concerns turn out to be true?

* from the lesson plan - “Who are the Special Interests?"--"What Effect do They Have on Public Policy Making?" National Conference of State Legislatures at:http://www.ncsl.org/public/trust/lessonp3-h.htm

Day 2
Introduce the lesson by lecturing on types of interest groups and lobbying techniques. http://xroads.virginia.edu/~MA98/pollklas/thesis/types.html is a source for this information.

1. Copy the poll on Interest groups from http://www.ncsl.org/public/trust/opinionpoll.htm

2. Have students take the poll in class and discuss their responses.

a. What type of private interests seem to be represented (environment, medical etc.)?
b. List examples of groups that fall under each of the following: ideological, single issue, professional, economic and public. The teacher can write the examples on the board as the students name them.
c. Do you believe that interest groups are helpful or a hindrance? Explain.

3. Have students poll ten adults for homework.

Day 3
Students will discuss the results of the poll:

a. What conclusions can you draw from your poll?
b. Do the people you polled seem to recognize that they are part of “special interests?”
c. Do people seem to have a negative or positive view of interest groups?
d. What limitations, if any, should be placed on the activities of special interest groups?

Students will poll ten adults using the poll on http://www.ncsl.org/public/trust/opinionpoll.htm

Embedded Assessment
Class discussion and the opinion poll results.

PULSE is a project of the Community Outreach and Education Program of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center and is funded by:

NIH/NCRR award #16260-01A1
The Community Outreach and Education Program is part of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center: an NIEHS Award


Supported by NIEHS grant # ES06694

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Last update: November 10, 2009
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