Decision Education is focused on teaching middle and high school students the skills, concepts, and dispositions that will help them become effective decision-makers. Decision Education helps students make better personal decisions, including ones that improve academics, careers, health and wellness, and relationships. It also prepares them to make informed, sustainable decisions within their communities that will foster a more harmonious and productive society such as strengthening the links between education and the workforce, supporting public health, and managing natural resources.
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 major decisions like which 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 skills and dispositions for making better decisions—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 an interdisciplinary field drawing on concepts from psychology, neuroscience, behavioral economics, and decision sciences. Students develop and practice skills and dispositions from the Decision Education Framework that will help them make better decisions in school and in real-world situations throughout their lives.
The Decision Education Framework includes:
- Deciding Skills: Framing, Generating Alternatives, Clarifying Values, Gathering Information, Predicting, and Reflecting, along with Deciding Traps to avoid
- Critical Thinking Skills: Gathering Information, Interpreting, Analyzing, Inferring, Evaluating, Explaining, and Reflecting, along with Thinking Traps to avoid
- Dispositions: Intellectual Humility, Active Open-mindedness, Truth-seeking, and Thinking Probabilistically
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 Deciding and Critical Thinking 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 and cumulative effect and is the surest way to help them reach their full potential. We believe that skills and dispositions for becoming a better decision-maker should be woven into every part of middle and high school student’s learning experience.
Why do we need a national movement to promote Decision Education?
Our education system has never systematically prioritized and taught skills and dispositions for making better decisions, although advances in decision and behavioral sciences are improving the lives of people who have access to them. It is time for a shift in education so these advances reach all students. A national movement will give schools the support they need to provide professional development opportunities for educators and engaging, developmentally-appropriate instructional resources for students.
Is Decision Education just a way to steer students towards certain values and behaviors?
No, the Decision Education Framework and related instructional resources do not imply the “right” thing to do or promote specific lifestyle choices. Instead, Decision Education is about helping students learn the skills and develop the dispositions they need to make decisions that promote their long-term wellbeing.
Why are Critical Thinking Skills part of Decision Education?
We can achieve better decision-making when we not only apply Deciding Skills that help us figure out what to do, but also apply Critical Thinking Skills that help us develop more accurate beliefs (or, in other words, get closer to understanding what is true). These skills, along with relevant dispositions, can help us avoid Deciding Traps and Thinking Traps.
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.
- Students are learning Decision Education concepts from robust, developmentally appropriate instructional resources aligned with grade-level standards, and educators receive relevant professional learning opportunities that support understanding of a shared lexicon and instructional methods.
- 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.