Decision Education Research

Supporting the impact and importance of decision-making skills.

Background

Decision Education is grounded in more than 40 years of research across multiple fields, from behavioral sciences to mathematics, neuroscience to decision analysis, and from the wisdom of philosophy to the practices of education. Several Nobel Laureates and global experts have helped shape a field of understanding, and advanced research showcasing the benefits of understanding and improving decision-making skills.

The Research Department at the Alliance for Decision Education aims to help advance research about students’ decision-making by synthesizing and disseminating existing research and driving new research. This will demonstrate the benefits of teaching decision-making skills to students and shape programming for adoption by educators.

Our Aim

The Alliance focuses on translational research that will turn conceptual insights from existing work into learning opportunities for students. Research illustrating how Decision Education impacts decision quality and life outcomes will help drive innovation in K-12 education. The Alliance believes that not only will educational outcomes be improved, but that those with essential decision skills and dispositions will also gain lifelong personal benefits, and help society as a whole. However, there is currently little research focused on youth learning the skills included in Decision Education.

Toward that end, the Alliance’s Research Department is working in partnership with like-minded organizations, educators, and leading academic researchers, many of whom are members of the Alliance Advisory Council.

Field-Building Activities

The Alliance is initially focused on four key priorities, all grounded in strong field collaboration.

Research Agenda

The Alliance is collaborating with scholars in the field to develop a shared Decision Education Research Agenda that will evaluate the current field and prioritize future research needs in Decision Education.

The Research Agenda is an initial framework intended to highlight future research needs in Decision Education, and serve as a guide for a community of researchers to generate research ideas, projects, and findings that inform practice in the field. It is also meant to be an ongoing and integral part of building a knowledge base of credible evidence that strengthens the field of Decision Education.

Research Grants and Awards

Recognizing that funding is key to enabling important research, the Alliance has launched two funding priorities:

  • A Research Grant Fund to Build Evidence for Decision Education: The Alliance has established a Research Grant Fund of $10 million over the next 10 years to advance the scientific base for Decision Education by synthesizing existing research and funding original studies.
  • An Award for Excellence in Decision Education Research: The Alliance has established a fund of $1-2 million to provide awards for excellence in Decision Education Research in upcoming years.

Researcher Community

The Alliance prioritizes sharing credible evidence on the efficacy of Decision Education through the work of an engaged researcher community. The aim is to encourage and support the growth of Decision Education as a research specialty by recognizing those who are developing the field.

Research Repository

The Alliance is collaborating with global researchers to build a research repository on the Alliance website. This will enable anyone to readily access the volumes of research already conducted on relevant decision science and the benefits of decision-making skills.

Research & Evidence: Priorities for the Alliance and the Field

Conduct studies to advance Alliance goals and initiatives

  • Research projects on Decision Education Domains conducted by the Alliance
  • Impact and evaluation on the Alliance programs

Generate research in the field among scholars

  • Decision Education Research Agenda
  • Decision Education Research Grants/Awards
  • Advising junior researchers
  • Promoting development of new measures

Distribute Alliance findings

  • White papers, blogs, and other documents
  • Presentations
  • Research content for the Alliance website

Examine and organize field evidence

  • Decision Education Repository
  • Sharing established measures (CART-Y, DMC-Y, AOT, etc.)

Key Studies

Background Literature on Decision Science and Decision-Making Skills:

  • Decades of research by judgment and decision-making scholars have developed a picture of the ways in which human judgment is bounded and error-prone (Kahneman, 2003; Simon, 1990)
  • People rely on heuristic principles to reduce complex tasks, which can lead to systematic errors and biases (Tversky & Kahneman, 1974)
  • Processes are explained by the theory of two cognitive systems underlying thinking and reasoning, referred to as “System 1 and System 2” (Stanovich & West, 2000)
  • The architecture of choice greatly influences how people make choices (Thaler, Sunstein, & Balz, 2010)
  • There is an increasing call now to “focus attention on the search for strategies that will improve bounded judgment because decision-making errors are costly and are growing more costly, decision makers are receptive, and academic insights are sure to follow from research on improvement” (Milkman, Chugh, & Bazerman, 2009)
  • A growing literature has begun to characterize decision-making in children (Weller et al., 2012)
  • Adolescence involves profound changes in biological, cognitive, psychosocial, and emotional domains, all of which have implications for decision-making
  • Applied to adolescents’ decisions, behavioral decision research provides analytical and empirical procedures for clarifying the challenges that young people face and their success in addressing them (Fischoff, 2008)
  • Given the potential plasticity of decision-making skills over time (Dhami et al., 2012), interventions that teach decision-making to children and adolescents have the potential to significantly improve social, health, and financial outcomes later in life (Baron & Brown, 1991; Jacobson et al., 2012; Weller et al., 2015).

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