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Targeted Teaching: Engaged Learning with the Inquiry-Based Question Cluster Discussion Technique: Student Outcomes in a History of Economic Thought Course


  • Kirsten K. Madden

    () (Economics Department, Millersville University, P.O. Box 1002, Millersville, PA USA 17551-0302)


Twenty-six undergraduate students explored the meaning of the classics (Adam Smith and Karl Marx) and two lesser-known contributions in ethics and economics (Robert Owen and John Ruskin) in a spring 2007 history of economic thought course. This article introduces the inquiry-based discussion technique used in the course and presents five question clusters fulfilling requirements for an inquiry-based discussion. A proposed hypothesis is that the technique increases student understanding of challenging texts. Pre- and postdiscussion assessments for five interpretative questions serve as evidence to evaluate the hypothesis. Assessment results lend empirical support to the hypothesized positive impact of the technique on student learning. End-of-the-semester student survey results captured student opinions concerning their learning from the technique. Survey results suggest the students believe that the technique positively impacts aspects of the learning process; the students recommend the discussion technique for future use.

Suggested Citation

  • Kirsten K. Madden, 2010. "Targeted Teaching: Engaged Learning with the Inquiry-Based Question Cluster Discussion Technique: Student Outcomes in a History of Economic Thought Course," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 77(1), pages 224-239, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:sej:ancoec:v:77:1:y:2010:p:224-239

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    Cited by:

    1. Michael K. Salemi & Kirsten Madden & Roisin O’Sullivan & Prathibha Joshi, 2010. "Classroom Discussion," Chapters,in: Teaching Innovations in Economics, chapter 6 Edward Elgar Publishing.

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    JEL classification:

    • A22 - General Economics and Teaching - - Economic Education and Teaching of Economics - - - Undergraduate


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