5 YouTube Videos That Will Help Your Students Make Better Decisions

November 1st, 2019

You don’t have to wait until your students are facing a big decision to introduce Decision Education resources. The following videos available on YouTube expose the hidden influences on our judgments and decisions. Students will learn a handful of strategies from media studies and psychology that will help them make better choices every day.

1. Influence & Persuasion: Crash Course Media Literacy #6 (9:50)

This video promises to “unhack your brain on advertising,” and like the other offerings from Crash Course, it makes learning easy with an engaging host and memorable examples. Jay Smooth explains how advertisers and politicians exploit our basic needs, appeal to our emotions, and create false dilemmas that prevent us from recognizing all of our options.

2. The Key to Media’s Hidden Codes by Ben Beaton and TED-Ed (5:59)

This video will help students recognize the intentions of the creators of the media they consume. It explains how every detail of media is designed to make us think, feel, or act a certain way. When we are aware of how colors, buzzwords and catchphrases, camera angles, framing, and lighting influence our perceptions, we become savvier about what we buy and believe in.

3. 5 Tips to Improve Your Critical Thinking by Samantha Agoos, Addison Andersen, and Nick Hilditch for TED-Ed (4:29)

Students will learn how to “sift through a sea of information” as they confront numerous decisions every day. This video is full of Decision Education concepts that will help students think clearly so they achieve better outcomes, including locating reliable information that’s relevant to their goals, examining their frame on a situation and considering other perspectives, and envisioning how their choices could shape their future.

4. The Psychology Behind Irrational Decisions by Sara Garofolo and TOGETHER for TED-Ed (4:38)

This video explains how common mental shortcuts can get in the way of making smart decisions. The examples explaining the cognitive biases of loss aversion and anchoring show how our own brains can distract us from the best option. Students will learn to pause to consider whether their first choice is the best one.

5. Decision-Making Strategies by GCFLearnFree.org (4:24)

Students will be better equipped to take on deliberative decisions after they watch this video. They’ll learn to identify their values as they approach a choice, recognize tradeoffs, and how to create a scorecard (similar to the Weight & Rate method) to identify the best option. Perhaps most importantly, this video conveys the idea that we can gain more control over our lives when we apply specific decision-making strategies instead of leaving our choices up to methods like coin flips.


Incorporate these engaging videos into your schedule in a way that works for you: group them into mini-unit over three periods, show one each Friday as a way to sustain attention before the weekend, or weave them into an existing unit to make it more meaningful. They’re certain to spark good discussion as students recognize what’s been influencing their choices all along and how they can take more control.

Download the student question packet and teacher’s guide to keep viewing and discussion on track!

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