An Application of the Decision-Making Model for Democracy Education: A Sample of a Third Grade Social Sciences Lesson

Article excerpt

Abstract

This research which aims at sampling the solution of a life problem using the decision making model and showing the contribution of this application to democracy education was planned in accordance with the objective research technique. Student worksheets and camera recordings were used for data analysis. Sixty-six third grade students studying in a public primary school were participated in this study. Based on students' responses to open ended questions, content and descriptive analyses were carried out. 39 students decided against cutting the tree and 19 ideas were put forward. Students evaluated their ideas and made their final decisions. It can be emphasized that an atmosphere where different ideas and decisions are put forward can contribute to democracy education.

Key Words

Social Sciences, Social Studies, Decision Making, Democracy Education.

The purpose of social sciences and social studies is to enable students to gain knowledge analytically in problem solving, to develop the values and attitudes of a democratic society and to take action as a citizen to establish a democratic society (Barth, & Demirta?, 1997). The purposes mentioned above (i) knowledge, (ii) skills, (iii) attitudes and values and (iv) social participation can be evaluated as the universal purposes accepted all over the world (Öztürk, 2009).

Decision making is one of the most important abilities because people are always in the position of making decisions both in their private lives such as where to live, which job to choose, and in social issues such as which leader to elect and which team to support. They have countless number of issues to decide on in their daily lives and their daily lives are shaped by the decisions made by themselves or other people (Armstrong, 1980; Naylor, & Diem, 1987). Making decisions is an ability to be learned (Parker, & Jarolimek, 1997; Smith, 1998).

Decision making is defi ning the alternatives and choosing one of them by applying certain criteria. Effective decision making ability is closely linked with creative and critical thinking abilities. Creative thinking is needed to produce the necessary alternatives to choose from in decision making and critical thinking to evaluate these alternatives. Shirly Engle, the well-known social sciences instructor (1960), argued that the criterion to be a good citizen was the quality of the decision made in private and social issues. Thus, she was of the opinion that to develop the ability of decision making should be the main target of social studies teaching (cited in Naylor, & Diem, 1987). The interests of adults and children are different. Decisions made easily by children may be the decisions which adults don't approve (Thomas, 2000). When children make wrong decisions on trivial subjects, it is important for parents not to interfere in because they mostly learn from their mistakes.

Decision making, in short, is to choose one from different alternatives. Those who study cognitive psychology defi ne decision making as activities of mind in the position of choosing one out of many alternatives (Galotti, 2002). If there is only one alternative, it means there is no decision making. Yet, even in such a limited situation, there is a need to make a decision on whether to act or not. One or two alternatives are evaluated in decision making other than habits. We should keep in mind that in order to develop the ability to make decisions, additional knowledge, personal values and abilities are needed. Besides these, the person who will decide needs to know the opportunities around him, limits and possibilities for change (Katey-Walker, 1987). Decisions are made under vague conditions. Therefore the decision-maker may not be sure whether his decision will bring the best results or not. Making logical decisions depends on choosing the ways of thinking and behaving in a manner to serve the aims, results and ethical values (Vars, 1993). …