How Skills Found in Decision Education and Media Literacy Empower Students

November 13th, 2023

We’re passionate about ensuring that Decision Education is a part of every student’s learning experience. Through Decision Education, students gain a variety of real-world skills—which include some of the same skills emphasized through media literacy. From developing the ability to navigate information found in the media and learning to evaluate the validity of sources to being mindful of confirmation bias and more, many of the valuable skills and dispositions found in the teaching of media literacy are also captured through Decision Education. 

What are media literacy and Decision Education?

Media literacy, as defined by the National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE), is “the ability to encode and decode the symbols transmitted via media and synthesize, analyze and produce mediated messages.” In other words, media literacy helps us receive, interpret, and understand messages that we come across in our daily lives through the media. 

Decision Education is the teaching and learning of skillful judgment formation and decision-making. Drawn from multiple fields, including behavioral science, neuroscience, mathematics, decision analysis, and education, Decision Education is organized into four K-12 Learning Domains: Valuing and Applying Rationality; Thinking Probabilistically; Recognizing and Resisting Cognitive Biases; and Structuring Decisions.

Students form judgments and make decisions based on their understanding and interpretation of information. Before students can decide what to do, they must first determine what information is true. This can be tricky in our digital world, where floods of messages inundate various platforms around the clock. With this access to information, it becomes crucial to determine the authenticity, reliability, and relevance of messages we receive from the media. Media literacy and Decision Education both empower students with the skills necessary to navigate and evaluate the variety of information they receive. From there, Decision Education teaches students how to make a rational decision based on that information. 

Where do we see these real-world skills in action?

For example, as a middle schooler decides on a stance related to a social issue for an upcoming debate or a high schooler considers who to vote for in their first local election, they need to navigate the information they’re gathering from a variety of sources in order to make decisions aligned with their goals and values. They can ask themselves, “Is this a fact, opinion, or something else? Are my emotions influencing my interpretation of this information? Am I only looking for information that confirms my current thinking?” From there, students can  deploy a skillful decision-making process; For example, they could seek disconfirming information, ask trusted sources for their input, think through alternative options, and use decision-making tools, like a weight-and-rate tool to help them decide. Through these applied skills, students can ensure they are using credible and reliable information to inform and improve their decision-making.

At the Alliance, we know that being able to think critically about information from media sources is an important component of making better decisions. That’s why we’re honored to work alongside ally organizations like NAMLE to highlight the need for media literacy and Decision Education and work together to continue empowering students.

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