Decision Education is a new field within education focused on teaching and learning the dispositions, knowledge, and skills of effective decision making, such as probabilistic thinking, recognizing and resisting cognitive biases, and self-direction toward improvement of one’s judgment and decision making.
Frequently Asked Questions about Decision Education
Why is Decision Education important?
We make thousands of decisions every day. They include in-the-moment choices like whether to react to a text message while driving, reinforcing or disrupting habits like eating a doughnut for breakfast, and contemplating deliberative decisions like what career to pursue, whether to move, or whether to have children. We face different challenges as we make decisions as individuals and within groups. Improving our decision skills, starting when we’re students, represents the surest way we can improve our lives, our families, and our communities.
What will students of Decision Education learn?
Decision Education is a rich, interdisciplinary field drawing on concepts from psychology, neuroscience, behavioral economics, education, and decision sciences. Students of Decision Education learn, develop, and practice decision skills that will help them in school and real-world situations throughout their lives. Decision skills include how to:
- Recognize and frame decisions
- Collect, organize, and analyze relevant information
- Think critically and probabilistically to form and update judgments
- Discern one’s goals, preferences, and values
- Generate alternative decision options
- Make skillful predictions about possible actions and outcomes
- Weigh and evaluate possible outcomes
- Identify and manage one’s emotional states and cognitive biases
- Identify and manage one’s habits
- Select a course of action and follow through
- Solicit feedback and make collaborative decisions
- Monitor one’s decision-making processes and improve over time
Why is the Alliance focusing on Decision Education for middle and high school students?
Middle and high school students are both developmentally capable of learning decision skills and at a stage of their lives when the consequences of their decisions are increasingly important. No matter a student’s interests, their goals, or the values they are developing, improving their decision skills has a vital, cumulative, and positive effect and is the surest way to help them reach their full potential. We believe that the teaching, learning, and practicing of decision skills should be woven into every part of middle and high school students’ educational experience.
Why do we need a national movement to promote Decision Education?
Our education system has never systematically prioritized and taught decision skills, although advances in decision and behavioral sciences are improving the lives of people who have access to them. It is time for a culture shift in education that integrates these advances into curricula that reaches all students. A national movement will give schools the support they need to adapt their schedules, train educators, and provide students with engaging, developmentally-appropriate instructional resources.
Is Decision Education just a way to steer students towards certain values and behaviors?
No, Decision Education lessons do not imply the “right” thing to do or promote specific lifestyle choices. Instead, Decision Education is about helping students learn the skills they need to make decisions that promote their long-term wellbeing. Decision skills including identifying one’s preferences and goals, making tradeoffs, approaching in-the-moment choices with a sense of calm, and consciously forming beneficial habits apply to a broad range of situations and are relevant to all students’ lives.
How does Decision Education relate to Critical Thinking?
Gathering information and thinking critically about that information is an essential part of making better decisions. The following Critical Thinking practices support better decisions:
- Seeking evidence to support and disconfirm your beliefs
- Updating your beliefs as you learn more
- Judging whether information is relevant, reliable, and significant
- Considering the Universal Intellectual Standards for critical thinking
What is the long-term vision of the Alliance for Decision Education?
We are working toward a day when:
- The Alliance for Decision Education is leading a nationwide, well-organized, and well-funded coalition of academics, educators, administrators, education advocates, school boards, policymakers, students, and parents committed to the principles and goals of Decision Education.
- Decision Education is a commonly used and clearly understood term.
- There is a shared lexicon with universally recognized resources for Decision Education, including robust student curricula with developmentally appropriate standards at each grade level and professional development programs for teachers and school administrators.
- There are scholarly works and validated research on the benefits of Decision Education.
- There is demand from parents, higher education, employers, and government to teach Decision Education in our schools.
- There are education policies and reliable, recurring funding commitments for Decision Education in all 50 states that make it part of every middle and high school student's curriculum.