Decision Education Skills

Decision Education builds lifelong skills

Decision Education teaches students how to improve their decision-making and judgment formation. The benefits of learning these skills are numerous and life-changing for the student, their families, communities, workplaces, and society.

Students will apply the judgment and decision-making skills they learn in the classroom throughout their lives. This will drive better outcomes today—which is critical, as youthful decisions can have far-reaching impact—and tomorrow. It will impact students across all aspects of their lives, including medically and financially, where choices often carry significant consequences. Professionally, it will make them workforce-ready.

Through the Four Domains of Decision Education, students learn key dispositions and skills, including:  

View K-12 Domains

Rather than choosing to postpone, avoid, comply, or merely react, students learn to embrace that a door is now in front of them, and tap into their decision-making skills to decide what to do.

Making good decisions is not instinctive, but it can be learned. From a young age, students can apply decision-making skills to various scenarios, like navigating a challenge with a friend, choosing a college to attend, or determining if they want to quit the basketball team. These same decision-making skills will help them as they navigate their future, like choosing a job, deciding whether to move, determining how and when to save for retirement, or figuring out how to select between recommended medical treatments.

Repeated studies and teacher feedback show that social media preoccupation has built into students a propensity to follow and believe the first source of information they come across instead of looking further and seeking additional perspectives and sources of information. This makes them vulnerable to misinformation, partial truths, and conspiracy theories. Decision Education helps students prioritize finding a variety of sources of information when making a decision.

Identifying values can be a challenging area for adults, but even more so for students, who typically are not taught to think about what is really important to them. Therefore, when they make a decision, they often do so for the wrong reasons, failing to focus on what they really care about in the situation at hand.

Even when they are committed to investigating options, facts, and personal values, students still must face the harsh reality that so much remains uncertain. Learning how to use probabilities and to estimate outcomes enables them to move forward thoughtfully rather than being paralyzed, falling prey to wishful thinking, or resorting to gut reactions.

Learning key behavior skills and understanding the impact of cognitive biases can help students avoid traps, resist marketing and other forms of influence, and be proactive when it comes to making a decision.

Throughout life, students will be in groups where small and big decisions are being made. The skills to truly listen, actively participate, appreciate the perspective of others, clearly state ideas, learn the value of compromise, and help drive positive outcomes will be valuable at every age and stage of life.

We now go beyond just memorizing facts. We are getting into real issues, deep topics, and fostering discussion and analysis. It is a whole other level of learning that I hadn’t done as much in my classroom prior.

– Joanne Calder, Middle School General Education Teacher

Additional Skills Students Develop

  • Increased confidence presenting their ideas
  • Greater focus on what is important to them
  • Increased sense of agency and confidence in self-direction
  • Better able to organize their thoughts and thinking process
  • Increased curiosity in learning more
  • Increased ability to debate ideas
  • Stronger ability to work in groups
  • Increased skills in managing conflict
  • More open to opposing views

Learn more about each of the Four Domains of Decision Education:

Thinking Probabilistically

We live in a world with incomplete, imperfect, and sometimes misleading information. When we make decisions, we are estimating what we know in the present and predicting what we think may happen in the future. Thinking probabilistically improves our decision-making by aiding our judgments about the likelihood of possible outcomes associated with our options.

  • Managing uncertainty through numeracy
  • Estimating our confidence in current knowledge
  • Predicting what might happen in the future and the consequences of any outcome
  • Assessing the expected value, risks, and rewards associated with our different decisions
  • Understanding the relationship between skill and chance
How this domain comes to life

Valuing and Applying Rationality

Being rational means adopting goals that are aligned with your values, holding beliefs that are commensurate with available evidence, making decisions skillfully (given one’s goals and beliefs), and taking appropriate action. It means pursuing one’s life goals using the best means possible.

  • Adopting long-term goals consistent with our values
  • Valuing truth-seeking to form more accurate judgments
  • Exercising active open-mindedness and intellectual humility to improve objectivity
  • Developing self-awareness of emotions, and thinking and working to improve it (metacognition)
  • Exercising self-regulation by managing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors
How this domain comes to life

Structuring Decisions

We make multiple decisions every day; some are simple and some are complex, some we make as individuals and some as part of a group. Focusing on processes and skills for making quality decisions can improve our ability to reach decisions that work best for us in both the short- and long-term.

  • Building agency by embracing decisions as opportunities
  • Clarifying what we are deciding and what we value
  • Generating and researching different options
  • Making predictions about the risks, rewards, and consequences associated with different options
  • Committing and following through on our choice
  • Explaining and reflecting on a decision process
How this domain comes to life

Recognizing and Resisting Cognitive Biases

Our minds rely on shortcuts—or heuristics—when we are forming judgments and making decisions. In general, these shortcuts are helpful—they decrease our mental load and increase our efficiency, usually without us even realizing it. However, these shortcuts often result in cognitive biases, a type of error in thinking when we are processing and interpreting information. Recognizing and resisting cognitive biases leads to better decision-making.

  • Identifying various types of cognitive biases and their negative impact on our judgments and decision-making
  • Actively monitoring and testing our thinking for cognitive biases
  • Setting up decision processes that reduce biased information gathering and thinking
  • Recognizing when others are influenced by their cognitive biases
How this domain comes to life