Writing recommendations with explanations

In Economics and Business, students write with a specific purpose as they communicate their interpretations to others. Students aim to explain, critique or analyse real-world situations.

In writing responses, students will often be required to provide one or more:

  • recommendations that propose the best course of action to take in response to an economic or business situation
  • explanations that justify implementing their chosen course of action.

Three strategies to support students to develop economic and/or business recommendations with explanations are:

  • use a framework to structure an explanation or recommendation
  • explicitly teach the language features of an explanation or recommendation
  • use a sample to model how to write an explanation or recommendation.

Use a framework to structure a recommendation with explanations

  1. Ask students what the term 'recommendation' might mean and where they might have heard the term used before, e.g. recommendations by movie or food critics. Teachers might wish to show a sample of a recommendation by a movie or food critic to prompt student ideas for responses to the following questions about creating an appropriate recommendation. Possible suggested student responses are given in brackets:
    • 'What is a recommendation?' (advice about the best thing/action to do)
    • 'What information would you expect to see in a recommendation?' (a suggestion to take a course of action, data/evidence) 
    • 'What would convince you to accept someone's recommendation?' (e.g. their expertise or experience in the field)
  2. Outline to students that when a recommendation is made in Economics or Business, several elements need to be considered. These include:
    • an explanation of the nature of the Economic or Business issue being considered
    • one or more suggested strategies to address the issue being considered
    • arguments for and against each strategy using evidence to support points made
    • a recommendation based on the evidence put forward.
  3. Show students a framework for writing a recommendation with explanations. For example:
    • Purpose: Examines positive and negative aspects of potential strategies to address an issue and comes to a logical recommendation based on the evidence.
    • Focus: Selection of the best strategy to address an issue based on evidence.
    • Framework:
      A diagram showing the framework to write recommendations with supporting arguments. There are three main sections. The first section requires students to state the issue. The middle sections require students to outline potential strategies, putting forward arguments for and against, and including evidence to support their arguments. The final section is the recommendation.

Explicitly teach the language features of a recommendation

To explicitly teach students the different language features of a recommendation, teachers can:

  • model examples of appropriate sentences (see the 'Commonly used' column below for examples).
  • provide students with sentences that are inappropriate for economic/business recommendations (see the 'Avoid using' column below for examples)
  • instruct students to change them into more appropriate sentences (see the 'Commonly used' column below for examples).

The table below lists seven language features teachers should explicitly teach students to use in their writing in Economics and Business.

​Language features ​Commonly used ​Avoid using

1. Objective writing​

Neutral descriptions/explanations

Example: 'The Royal Banking Commision highlighted how some individuals have been taken advantage of, which is a significant issue for consumers of financial products.'​

​Emotive descriptions/explanations and personal comment.

Example: 'I reckon that it is unfair that people can be conned by businesses who sell finance things.'

Informal conversational style

Example: 'Well, I've thought up a couple of reasons why businesses should be fined for scamming people out of their money.'

2. Vocabulary

Curriculum-specific vocabulary

Example: 'The business will earn a profit if consumers are made aware of the high-quality products it offers for sale.'​

General, imprecise vocabulary

Example: 'The business will make money if people know about the great stuff it sells.'​

3. Verb Tense

The present tense for giving current points of view or arguments

Example: 'There are several policy options to address Australia's energy crisis.'

The past tense for examples of actions or events that have taken place

Example: 'For example, te state government invested in wind farms, which has reduced dependence on coal-fired power.'​

Tenses inappropriately

Example: ​'The energy policy introduced last year are encouraging investment in...' (Incorrect tense use).

​4. Grammatical voice

Passive voice (emphasis on the topic rather than who or what is involved in the action)

Example: 'Worklife balance for many employees is improved through flexible work arrangements.' 'The business was expanded by the owner.'

Active voice (in some instances)

Example: 'Flexible work arrangements improve work-life balance ​for many employees.' 'The owner expanded the business.'

​5. Explanation (of issue or strategy) sequenced by time/order or cause and effect

​Logical sequence according to time or order of points made

Example: 'The first suggested strategy is...', 'To begin with...', 'Another possible strategy...', 'A final point...', 'Finally, ...'

Conjunctions and connectives to demonstrate cause and effect relationship, such as 'if... then', so, because, 'as a consequence', 'as as result' used

Example: 'A third of Australia's goods go to China. As a result, if China's economic growth continues to fall, the impact on Australia's economy could lead to a significant issue for our exports.'

​Presenting ideas in an illogical, informal fashion

Example: 'First of all, I want to say...', 'Finally, as a result of this...', 'However, prior to this...'

​6. Point of View

The third-person point of view (it, she, he, they). Aim to keep the discussion impersonal.

Example: 'It may be argued that businesses would save time and money if there was less government regulation to comply with.'

Conjunctions and connectives to signpost difference of opinion or viewpoint

Examples include, however, although, yet, despite this, on the other hand.

​The second person point of view (you) or the first-person point of view (I, we). You should not become personally involved in the discussion of the pros and cons of strategies.

Example: 'I think that it is obvious that we should support less government regulation in Australia.'

The same conjunction throughout the recommendation

Example: however.

7. Citation, and examples, data or other supporting evidence

​Support points of view/arguments with credible, reliable data/evidence.

Example: 'According to the ABS, retail sales fell by 0.1% in July 2019 even though some Australians have already received their tax cut. This might suggest that a different strategy to tax cuts should be considered to boost consumer spending.'

Citing source information (e.g. author, the title of the source, the publisher, the date of publication, etc.) in text and in a reference list.

​Unsubstantiated opinions not supported by data.

Example: 'We think that people don't have enough money to spend, even with tax cuts. They need to pay people more in wages.'

Sources that cannot be cited.

8. Evaluative language

​Adjectives that demonstrate a judgement about the behaviour of an individual, business, government, such as: (in)effective, (in)efficient, (un)sustainable.

Example: 'Australia's current economic performance is poor in comparison to previous years, based on key indicators such as the level of unemployment and economic growth. Government policies to address this level of performance have been ineffective in maintaining or improving living standards, and this is an issue which needs to be addressed.'

Example: 'Government policies that support the creation of new jobs using the latest digital technologies provide an innovative option for improving Australia's employment rate and economic growth. It will also be effective in increasing our living standards.'

​'Good' and 'bad throughout a recommendation

Example: 'Australia's current economic performance is bad compared to last year and government policies have been bad at helping make living standards better.'

Example: 'Government policies that support the creation of new jobs provide a good option for improving Australia's employment rate and economic growth and it will also be good for increasing our living standards.'

To assist students with their writing, you might display posters of frequently used connectives as an easy reference and a reminder to students to use them. Some examples of these are given below.

A table showing examples of connectives. The connectives have been grouped according to one of six functions: to sequence ideas (Firstly, in summary, to conclude), to show cause and effect (as a result, therefore, consequently), to clarify (for example, in particular, such as, in other words), to present a condition or concession (however, in contrast, instead), to add information (in addition, furthermore, moreover) or to indicate time (at the same time, meanwhile, then).
Figure Caption: Adapted from Hochman & Wexler (2017, p.123); Derewianka (2011).

Curriculum links for this example are: VCEBC013, VCEBR011, VCEBR020, VCEBR021, VCEBR022, VCEBW025, VCEBE019, VCEBE028.

Use a sample to model how to write a recommendation

  1. Provide students with a sample of a recommendation to an economic/business problem. Worked examples [HITS strategy 4] help demonstrate to students how a written response can be structured using a practical example.
  2. Ask students to annotate the sample using the language features in Explicitly teach the language features of a recommendation by indicating the number corresponding to the specific language feature in a copy of the sample. Students can work individually or in pairs to annotate the sample (see below).
  3. A recent issue for Victorian state and local governments is the problem of how to deal with household and business waste in the community (1). This has become a significant issue as other countries are declining (3) to take our waste for processing and, therefore, the government needs to consider (3) what action can be taken to address the waste generated in their communities effectively. Three possible strategies that can be considered. (1)

    Firstly (5), more waste can be taken to landfill sites. In the short term, this might help to effectively address the immediate problem of where to dispose of the waste that countries will no longer take from Australia. However, according to data supplied by local councils to the ABC (Oaten, 2019) (7), over 4,600 tonnes of recyclables were estimated to go to landfill in one week. Therefore, in the longer term, the government might need to expand, or create, more landfill sites to dispose of the growing amount of waste which is costly (8) and environmentally unsustainable (2)(8).

    Secondly (5), the government can encourage households and businesses to recycle more waste by providing facilities such as container deposit stations where they can be paid for bringing in their recyclable waste. NSW, the ACT and SA have a container deposit scheme already in place. Whilst (6) this might encourage more households and businesses to separate their waste for recycling, leading to less waste going to landfill, it can be costly to the government to pay for such a scheme. According to The Age (2019), the Victorian Parliamentary Budget Office estimates it will cost the state government $9 million over 4 years. It also still leaves the problem of what to do with the recyclable waste once the government collects it.

    Finally (5), the government can encourage the creation of innovative businesses that can re-use waste. Although (6) providing incentives for waste and recycling businesses, such as the Innovation Connections Grant, might cost the government money in the short term, in the long term it might help the government achieve some of its economic goals. For instance, more Victorians can be employed (2) by successful (8) new waste and recycling businesses, more taxation revenue (2) will be received from these businesses to help fund other government programs and the cost of garbage collection by Victorian governments might fall as few recyclables are put into landfill.

    Overall, the most appropriate strategy is for innovative waste and recycling businesses to be supported and encouraged by the government (4). Even though there might be short term costs to the government to do this, the benefits should outweigh the costs i
    n the long term.


    Oaten, J. (2019, September 30). Victorian councils sending thousands of tonnes of recyclables to the landfill as waste crisis deepens. ABC News. Retrieved from

    ss, B., & Lucas, C. (2019, August 7). Cash for drink containers scheme would cost taxpayers $9 million. The Age. Retrieved from https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/cash-for-drink-containers-scheme-would-cost-taxpayers-9-million-20190807-p52ewm.html.

  4. Provide students with an issue and ask them to determine two to three strategies that might help to address it. Students discuss and write down the cost(s) and benefit(s) of using each strategy and then share their views as a whole class.
    • Possible issues include: making your business more sustainable, reviewing the tax system or Austudy payments, reducing solar panel and battery rebates.
  5. Instruct students to use the framework from Strategy 1 and the language features from Strategy 2 to create their own recommendation.
  6. Once students have drafted their recommendation, ask them to swap their written response with a partner for proofreading, using the peer editing process. This is an example of Collaborative Learning [HITS strategy 5] and allows students to share and compare their written responses with one another. Teachers should remind students about how to give respectful feedback. Teachers can provide the following prompts for students to consider as they look at their partner's draft. 'Does your partner's writing:
      •  follow the correct structure for a recommendation? If not, how can they improve this?'
      • use the language features for a recommendation? If not, how can they improve this?'

Curriculum link for this example is: VCEBE028.