Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Are You a Liberal or a Conservative?

Jenny Collier


Students use a web-based quiz to determine their own placement on the political spectrum, and then work cooperatively to define the liberal and conservative viewpoints.


The student understands the role of special interest groups, political parties, the media, public opinion, and majority/minority conflicts on the development of public policy and the political process.

The student develops and defines his or her own political beliefs and tendencies.


-Internet-accessible computer with printer


Besides setting up web access for the students, teachers should read through the online quiz to familiarize themselves with the questions asked so that they can help students who don't understand what the questions are asking.


1. On their own, students should answer the questions in the political ideology quiz from the website. (address is listed below.) Once they submit their answers for scoring, they should print out the -here are your results- page for later use in the lesson.

2. Once all students have received their results, have them line up across the front of the room positioned according to their scores on the quiz. (i.e. a score of zero is the ultimate liberal score, so persons receiving that score should stand on the far left, with the scores getting higher as you move from person to person towards the right. The person furthest to the right would have the highest, that is, the most conservative, score.)

3. Identify the most moderate of the students (would have a score of approximately forty). Then, using that/those students as a center point, group the students so that each group has people of both liberal and conservative viewpoints. Groups should be no less than three and no more than five students.

4. Once students are in their groups, have them compare the results that they received, in order to come up with a list of beliefs held by liberals, and a list of beliefs held by conservatives (the breakdown of answers on their results pages will make this easier than it sounds.) The emphasis should NOT be on debating the merits of these opinions, or on who is right or wrong, but rather on identifying what liberals and conservatives believe.

5. Break students out of groups and let them go back to normal seats. Hold a discussion concerning reasons why people's scores differed from each other, and about the fact that no one (probably) tests out as purely liberal and purely conservative.

6. In each Sunday's paper, if Congress is in session, there are summaries of bills that members of Congress voted on in the past week, along with voting records for each bill. As a summative activity, have the students choose three of the bills discussed in the listings, and explain how they themselves would vote on each of these bills, and whether or not their votes would be considered to be liberal or conservative responses to the situation.

7. This can be the prompt for an essay about the differences between liberals and conservatives, or a springboard to a lecture on political socialization and political opinions, or whatever related topic you desire.


As a formative assessment, students can be observed participating in the survey and discussing the results. Observe for:
-understanding how special interest groups, political parties, the media, public opinion, or majority/minority conflicts can influence the development of public policy and the political process. (even within your classroom.)
--student discussion and questioning in order to develop and define personal political beliefs and tendencies.

An additional formative assessment can be given to students after they determine and explain how and why they would've voted on the past week's Congressional bills. (Since the Congressional bills differ each week, the teacher will have to make a determination of the information that indicates a correct answer.)

Web Links

Web supplement for Are You a Liberal or a Conservative? (Requires a JavaScript enabled browser)
Political Quiz

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