Can Forecasting Competitions Advance Decision Education?

August 23rd, 2022

Alliance launches pilot to test the “if and the how”

  • Will Top Gun: Maverick reach or exceed $45 million in revenue in its first weekend?
  • Will Volodymyr Zelensky flee Ukraine or cease to be its president before May 25, 2022?
  • What songs will rank highest on the Billboard Hot 100 for the week of May 21, 2022?

These are some of the curious questions recently posed to a collection of high school students across the United States.

The aim: to test their interest, interaction, and reapplication of skills needed to forecast the outcome of key events shrouded in a myriad of unknowns and variables.

The challenge was part of a pilot launched by the Alliance for Decision Education in partnership with the globally renowned Good Judgment Inc. As forecasting enforces and gives application to many of the skills interwoven through Decision Education, the proposal is to see if school forecasting competitions might be a key opportunity to engage more schools and students in improving student decision-making.

“We know that teaching decision-making skills in classrooms will have an immediate and life-long positive impact on students,” said Alliance Director of Education Megan Roberts. “Our opportunity is to find engaging and seamless ways to incorporate Decision Education into the classroom and student activities.”

The Forecasting pilot, which included more than 80 students in three schools, is just one of the many opportunities being tested by the Alliance in partnership with other organizations, schools, education leaders, and programs to find the best ways to make Decision Education broadly available and accessible.

“We want every student in every school to benefit from and have access to Decision Education,” Roberts said.

Forecasting competitions won global attention after Alliance Advisory Council Member Phil Tetlock co-authored the acclaimed book Superforcasting, which highlights decades of research and the results of a massive, government-funded forecasting tournament, The Good Judgment Project. The project involved tens of thousands of ordinary people who set out to forecast global events. Some turned out to be astonishingly good, beating other benchmarks, competitors, and prediction markets. They were called “superforecasters.”

The aim of the project was to see how superforecasters might benefit and impact key policy decisions.

A key outcome was the understanding that forecasting skills reinforce and build on decision-making skills.

Forecasting tournaments, Roberts said, directly support learning across all four domains of Decision Education:

“In forecasting tournaments, students get the chance to apply their decision-making skills in an engaging, challenging, and competitive format,” Roberts said.

The Alliance is reviewing learnings from the pilot and evaluating if and how a broader program might be implemented nationally. The teachers involved in the pilot all said they hope their early work can be expanded.

“This is a super exciting opportunity. I am thrilled this may be developed for kids,” said Jen Cerny, an English and Humanities teacher at Culver Academy High School in Indiana.

To support an expansion of this pilot or any additional Decision Education programming, please contact Pat Winner, Alliance Deputy Director of Development:

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