High School Assignment - Evaluating Franklin D. Roosevelt's Great Depression Policies

Instructor: John Hamilton

John has tutored algebra and SAT Prep and has a B.A. degree with a major in psychology and a minor in mathematics from Christopher Newport University.

The following U.S. History homeschool assignment will allow you to evaluate the New Deal as well as other Great Depression policies of FDR, and determine their overall effectiveness. The assignment is appropriate for 11th grade students. Updated: 01/08/2021

FDR and the Great Depression Topic Overview

Whether or not Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal policies actually worked depends on who you ask, as political pundits on either side of the aisle tend to have markedly differing viewpoints.

Some people suggest his New Deal policies indeed pulled America from the depths of the Great Depression, while others claim it was America's entrance into World War II that spawned the recovery. Nonetheless, many polls consistently rank FDR as one of the greatest presidents in American history.

In this assignment, you will discuss his strategies and tactics, while explaining if FDR did or did not handle the situation properly. You will benefit from this assignment by learning about FDR, the New Deal, and the Great Depression. As a point of fact, some of his policies still reverberate in modern years.

Key Terms

  • Collective bargaining: negotiations between employers and employees
  • Keynesian economics: system advocated by FDR during the Great Depression
  • National Labor Relations Board (NLRB): created to enforce the National Labor Relations Act
  • New Deal Coalition: special interest groups which supported FDR's policies
  • New Deal Liberalism: political philosophy espousing aid to workers in tough years


  • Internet capability
  • Online copies or YouTube videos of FDR's speeches
  • Paper for note-taking
  • Writing instruments


  • Three days to review the material on FDR and the Great Depression/Two weeks to design your spoken or written presentation.

Assignment Instructions for Students

Step One

  • To start with, why is October 29th, 1929 infamously known as Black Tuesday, and what is its relation to the Great Depression?
  • Create in your mind's eye what it was like standing in a soup line to get a free meal.

Step Two

Part I

  • Learn how FDR communicated with the American people during a ''Fireside Chat'', and how the American people in return related to the concept.
  • Analyze how the Golden Age of Radio contributed to the effectiveness of the Fireside Chats.
  • Research to uncover the date of the first Fireside Chat.
  • How many total Fireside Chats did FDR deliver during his tenure in office?
  • Find out how long the Fireside Chats averaged in length.
  • Who is credited with coining the term Fireside Chats?

Part II

  • What was FDR's famous quote about fear during his inaugural address, and how did the American people react?
  • Uncover the four freedoms in FDR's famous speech, and find out what date the speech was delivered.
  • Discover what incredibly debilitating disease plagued FDR, and how he was able to overcome his physical disability with mental fortitude.

Step Three

Compare and contrast the following six acts established by FDR to help the economy recover during the Great Depression:

  • Federal Emergency Relief Act (FERA)
  • Glass-Steagall Act
  • Homeowners Loan Act
  • National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA)
  • National Labor Relations Act (NLRA)
  • Social Security Act
    • Evaluate why critics of FDR's policies were so concerned about his increase in the power of the federal government.
    • Explain FDR's controversial court packing plan of 1937, and what ultimately became of it. Do you approve or disapprove of the idea? Justify your answer.

Step Four

  • FDR initially vowed America would remain neutral while the fighting in World War II raged on in Europe, but what changed the situation?
  • Illustrate how some economists believe Pearl Harbor was related to the end of the Great Depression.
    • Juxtapose the Great Depression of 1929 to 1941 with the Great Recession of 2007 to 2009.

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