Evaluation of an Intermediate Level Decision Analysis Course
Kathryn Blackmond Laskey Decision Science Consortium, Inc. Reston, VA
Vincent N. Campbell Decision Systems, Inc. Reston, VA
A democratic society depends on a citizenry with the ability to think critically about issues facing society and make intelligent decisions about how society should respond to these issues. Increasingly, the American economy depends on a workforce that can think and make decisions at a level of sophistication much higher than that required of previous generations. The research described in this chapter responds to a growing call for instruction in critical thinking and decision making.
Good decision making can be defined as thinking that leads to choices that are most likely to satisfy the goals that the thinker would have on reflection ( Baron, 1985, 1988). The basic hypothesis addressed by our research is that decision-making skills can be improved by formal instruction in the principles and techniques of good decision making. To test this hypothesis, we have developed and evaluated a unit in decision making for intermediate school students. The intermediate level was chosen because this is the age at which children begin to be able to think more formally, and because they make decisions at this age that will affect the future course of their lives.
The course adapts techniques drawn from personalized decision analysis (PDA) to the intermediate level. PDA draws from decision theory, cognitive science, and recent work in critical thinking to create systematic decision- making methods that complement people's natural decision making