The Marshall Plan: Data Analysis

9, 10, 11, 12

The purpose of this lesson is to analyze historical data regarding the Marshall Plan using regression analysis.  Students will practice the concepts of two- variable scatter plot creation and analysis, linear regression, correlation coefficient, means, and outliers.  Analysis of data will reinforce concepts of large scale government-based philanthropic actions. (Teacher Note: If the specifics of the math included in this lesson are beyond the scope and nature of this class, analyze historical data regarding the Marshall Plan utilizing the Alternative Marshall Plan: Country Data- Handout Three)

Lesson Rating 
PrintTwo to Three Fifty-Minute Class Periods (depending upon any lesson extensions used)

The learner will:

  • critically read data from tables, charts or graphs.
  • determine, for a data set, measures of central tendency, variability, and correlation.
  • use the data and their characteristics to draw and support conclusions.
  • make predictions based on data, including interpolations and extrapolations.
  • employ mathematical models to make inferences and predictions to answer questions and solve problems.
  • discuss the Marshall Plan -a governmental program designed to provide for the common good post- WWII
  • describe contemporary American programs designed to provide for the common good of all other nations, ie. South Africa, Iraq, Palestine, Bosnia, post tsunami Indonesia, Hurricane Katrina, etc..
  • Marshall Plan information and video available at
  • Marshall Plan: Country Data- Handout One
  • Reflection Question- Handout Two
  • Alternative Marshall Plan: Country Data- Handout Three
  • Access to computer lab with Excel spreadsheet software, or a graphing calculator for each student OR a hand held calculator if using the Alternative Marshall Plan: Country Data- Handout Three.
Home Connection 

Have the learners ask their caregivers what they remember about the Marshall Plan. Encourage them to review their data analysis with caregivers. If the learners have any friends /relatives /acquaintances in the countries identified in the chart- Handout One, encourage them to correspond with these friends/relatives/acquaintances to understand the impact this assistance had on their country. If family members have traveled to Germany, ask "What does it look like? Could you tell that some cities were completely destroyed?"



  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Briefly review the state of European countries at the end of WWII and some of the philanthropic activities that took place during this time that attempted to address some of the difficulties and tragedies. Check the learners prior knowledge as it pertains to America's efforts to provide for the common good post-WWII in general and the Marshall Plan in particular and then show the 12 minute movie produced by US AID on the Marshall Plan.

    (Teacher Note: If the specifics of the math included in this lesson are beyond the scope and nature of this class, analyze historical data regarding the Marshall Plan utilizing the Alternative Marshall Plan: Country Data- Handout Three. Have the learners complete this worksheet individually or in small groups. Following the discussion of their work, distribute and assign the Reflection Question - Handout Two)

  2. Distribute to the learners the handout which provides tabular data for 14 countries which were provided grants and loans through the Economic Recovery Program (ERP), or more commonly known as "The Marshall Plan". The country name, population in 1950 (given in thousands), and economic assistance provided between April 3, 1948 and June 30, 1952 (given in millions of dollars) is presented in this table.

  3. Direct the learners to use a graphing calculator or Excel spreadsheet to construct a scatter plot relating population (the independent variable) and amount of aid (the dependent variable). Population data should be placed on the horizontal or x-axis, and amount of aid on the vertical or y-axis.

  4. Have the learners analyze the resulting scatter plot and determine which type of a model would best fit the data. (Learners should determine that a linear model would be most appropriate.)

  5. Instruct the learners to use the regression analysis features of their calculator or of Excel to determine a linear equation which would best fit the data. Remind them, and monitor their calculations, to be sure that the population data is being used as the independent variable and is graphed on the horizontal axis.(The resulting regression line should have the equation y = .0436x + 132.9356 .)

  6. Now have them graph their regression line on their scatter plot.

  7. Instruct the learners to make observations regarding data clusters and the goodness of the data's fit to the regression line. (The learners should observe that the data is clustered in 2 groups, one for the 10 countries with populations less than or equal to 10M - the Netherlands should be included in this group - and another for the 4 countries with populations above 40M.)

  8. Have them calculate the value of the correlation coefficient (if they haven't already) and compare that value to their observation regarding goodness of fit. (The calculated value of the correlation coefficient, or "r", should be 0.859. Both the regression line on the scatter plot and the value of "r" indicate a relatively strong correlation between population and aid.)

  9. Instruct the learners to focus now on the 2nd data cluster, noting that there are two points above the regression line and two points below. They should determine which countries these points represent and think about why these points appear where they do. (France and the United Kingdom are above the regression line, and Germany and Italy are below.)

  10. Have them calculate two different regression lines and associated correlation coefficients, one for the 1st data cluster and another for the 2nd. They should then compare the strength of the relationship for the clusters individually. (For the 1st data set, the regression line equation should be y= .0715x - 37.137 and r = 0.6434. For the 2nd data set, the regression line equation should be y = -.0454x + 4346.5556 and r = -0.198.)

  11. Ask the learners to reflect on why these results are so different from their first regression analysis.

  12. Data Analysis -Part II:

  13. Instruct the learners to calculate the average aid for each country (in $M per 1,000 residents) and have them construct either a dot plot or stem-and-leaf plot for the averages.

  14. The learners should now compute a five number summary to determine any outliers and analyze the countries which are either outliers or whose averages significantly differ from the other countries. Why are these averages either so much smaller or so much bigger than those of the other countries?

  15. Discuss with the learners their impressions of the appropriateness of the Marshall Plan, i.e.if it was an appropriate use of government funds.

  16. Ask them to share their reflections regarding the mean aid amounts per country. Was it appropriate for how these means differed by country?

  17. Ask the learners to share their reflections regarding their analysis of the 2nd data cluster (where France and the UK were above the regression line and Germany and Italy were below). Were the relative positions of these countries appropriate?

  18. Following the discussion, distribute and assign the Reflection Question- Handout Two


The assessment process for this lesson is an on-going, interactive process in which the instructor monitors and checks the results of the learners' analysis and computations as the lesson progresses. The correct calculated values are provided in the previous "Instructional Procedures" section in parentheses and italics. Learner responsesto the open-ended questions may vary, but their responses should not differ from or contradict the data analysis itself. While it is not appropriate to evaluate the stance taken by the learners in response to the Reflection Question, the depth of thought and their compliance with the stated requirements for the paper can be assessed.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Define philanthropy to include giving and sharing; volunteering; and private individual action intended for the common good. Explain how a volunteer individual/group can act for the common good.
    2. Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Explain why needs are met in different ways by government, business, civil society and family.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark HS.3 Identify constitutional principles that protect minorities in a republic. Relate these principles to the role of civil society organizations.
    2. Standard PCS 06. Philanthropy in History
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Describe how the common good was served in an historical event as a result of action by a civil society sector organization.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Define and give examples of motivations for giving and serving.
      2. Benchmark HS.4 Cite historical examples of citizen actions that affected the common good.