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Decision Making


Decision Making Dianne J. E. Kraus Wilkes University

Decision Making

ABSTRACT The male and female participants in this mini-study are 28 sophomore students who are enrolled in the Honors AVID 10 Elective program at Dundee Crown High School. The AVID students are underserved students from the middle who have high normal test scores but they meet one of the following criteria: 1) low income, 2) single-parent; 3) first generation to attend college, 4) other circumstances that need support. We provide our students with 21st century skills and support for their academic subjects so that they will be prepared for rigorous coursework in preparation for college. In the mini-study the students are learning how to design a decisionmaking matrix for deciding which college to visit for their overnight college visit.

Decision Making

Decision Making In this mini-study the students have completed research on four possible colleges to visit for their overnight visit in their junior year. The students have prepared presentations to share with the class in a jigsaw so that different groups are responsible for only a section of the information needed by the large group. The students have already seen one of the presentations prior to the mini-study and two of the students participated in the aviation day at SIU which was hosted by an alumnus of our school who flew them down to tour the campus. The teacher models the design of a decision making matrix for the students, and then as a class they design the decision making matrix that will be used for deciding which college to visit next fall. (Appendix 1) Once the students complete their matrix they will be asked to write a thirty-minute timed persuasive essay assessment based on their personal results to convince the AVID site team as to which college is the best choice and they will back their claims with grounds and backing from their research and matrix. The site team members will review the students work and they will also design criteria for the same alternatives and this will be shared with the students along with the results of the decision. The target learning goal for this lesson was that the students will analyze and prioritize the alternatives and criteria in a decision making process in order to form conclusions. (Appendix 2) The goal for the lesson was met during the taping because the students were able to make a decision-making matrix. The teacher engaged the students in the process for designing the matrix by first modeling a matrix based on student interest of choosing what clothes to wear in the morning and then the teacher facilitated the group in generating their own matrix for deciding a college choice. Student evidence was that students were able to provide a prediction supported

Decision Making

by when a student stated that he predicted that SIU would be his best choice based on the aviation program. The other students wrote down their predictions. Artifacts of student work demonstrate the final matrix used for decision making, the college research on which the students based their decision matrix and then after Thanksgiving the teacher will collect the final artifacts when the task is completed. The process for decision making of: 1) choosing alternatives and criteria, 2) predicting/recommending the results, 3) deciding based on the matrix, 4) analyzing the results and reflecting on results in comparison to original prediction, breaks the process down into steps that make it straightforward to prioritize complex criteria and compare alternatives to enable students to assign value on how to make important decisions. This was an innovating lesson which demonstrated total student engagement based on a student interest topic that was relevant to real-world issues that are affecting the students lives. Another important part of the lesson will be the results of the decision when the students can see and evaluate the criteria of the adults on the site team. We have two sophomores that will be participating at the meeting to represent their peers and they will report back to the class as to the process that they observe in the meeting of sixteen adults who also engage in the decision making process as it relates to the junior trip. It is important for teenagers to be aware that the criteria for decision making differs based on age and the perspectives of the people in the room. The parts of the lesson that were challenging was providing the resources that the students needed to complete the research on the four colleges including the use of career cruising to analyze their living portfolios that they have been creating since middle school. The students then needed time to work on their presentations and as always the notebooks were a struggle to

Decision Making

use for work on the prezi due to trouble with our Wi-Fi in our building.

The next difficulty was

bringing the site team together for the meeting to discuss the results with the student but this has been confirmed. Next year when facilitating this lesson the teacher will change the rating scale for criteria to a quantitative scale so that the data is more precise and is easily ranked. The current scale is somewhat vague and is not as precise for prioritizing the various criteria. The teacher also needs to grow in the area of reflection and will spend time on this after the site team meets. It is important for the students to reflect on their decision and to fully understand why it is the best decision. Sometimes it may be that due to personal desire or to the need for personal satisfaction that criteria may be changed or made more specific to accommodate for personal needs rather than logic and this can be reflected in the criteria. For example, a student may have a personal requirement for going to a school because of the diversity of the school, or a friend is attending the school, or they really enjoy the architecture. Decision making is an important skill that students should learn in order to avoid making emotion based choices that can increase risk-taking behaviors, to increase critical thinking skills to prepare for a changing society and to increase critical thinking skills by making brain connections that will enhance thinking skills as an adult. These skills need to be taught and practiced from an early age and they are important so that our students can enter society and be skilled at making political, social and personal decisions that will guide them through life in a responsible, successful manner. We want our children to be able to take care of our future and to function in a demanding world where they will need to decide issues that affect our health, monetary stability, global security, fiscal responsibility, political affiliations and religious freedoms.

Decision Making

References Brown, J.L. & Marzano, R.J. (2009) A handbook for the art & science of teaching. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Decision Making



Major ACT/GPA score Distance to school from home Campus Cost Sports Recreational Sports Scholarships Class Size Urban Music Program/Band TOTALS Southern Illinois Grand Valley IUPUI Eastern Illinois

X = this is what I want O = not what I want ? = not sure

Decision Making

APPENDIX 2 Scale for Decision Making 4.0 Students will utilize the knowledge acquired from the decision making matrix to select the best among the following alternatives Southern Illinois University, Eastern Illinois University, IUPUI and Grand Valley University In addition to score 3.0 performance, partial success at score 4.0 content Students will analyze and prioritize the alternatives and criteria in a decision making process in order to form conclusions No major omissions regarding score 2.0 content and partial success at score 3.0 content Students will identify criteria and alternatives for a decision making rubric Partial success at score 2.0 content but major errors or omissions regarding score 3.0 content With help, partial success at score 2.0 content and score 3.0 content With help partial success at score 2.0 content but not at score 3.0 content Even with help, no success

3.5 3.0


2.0 1.5

1.0 0.5 0.0