A senior in high school in New York City, whom I’ll call Anna, wanted to go away to college but her mother, who had never been to college, didn’t want Anna to go away to school. Anna struggled with how to have this important conversation with her mom. How could she solve her problem by both convincing her mother to let her go away and show empathy and understanding for her mother’s concerns?
Anna used the new decision-making skills that she learned in her high school’s Decisive AREA Method program. Decisive supports young adults in high school and college in learning how to navigate their complex world of decision-making by teaching them the AREA Method. AREA, an acronym for a decision-making system that uniquely controls for and counter bias, expands the decision-maker’s knowledge while focusing on the incentives of others and improving judgment.
Anna says, “Using my AREA skills, I spoke to my mom’s incentives and concerns and explained my own. Not only was I able to convince her to allow me to go away to school, the conversation strengthened our relationship.”
Anna’s successful experience with Decisive echoed those of other high school and college students nationwide who participated in an expanded pilot program in the spring of 2019 to teach students valuable real-world decision-making skills. Decisive was facilitated and implemented in a variety of ways, ranging from in-person experiences with a coach to entirely online, self-guided implementation.
Programming results showed that, after learning to use the AREA Method through the Decisive curriculum, students:
- Were more confident decision-makers
- Believed they were learning a real-world life skill
- Knew how to implement a plan to reach their desired decision outcome
- Gained awareness that their relationships with others impacted their decision-making
- Were able to take strategic stops to prevent assumption and judgment and to confront cognitive biases when making a high-stakes decision
- Personally employed and taught others the Decisive AREA Method skills
The program was rolled out in a handful of under-resourced high schools in the Northeast and in a number of colleges around the country including large public universities, military, community, and elite four-year colleges. At the University level, the cohort consisted of first generation and economically disadvantaged students across all four years of the college experience.
Impact Through Numbers
Listed below are the major data results from the program evaluation that charts user growth in decision-making skills pre and post program. Below are final student results:
Student Post Program Responses:
Are now confident that their decisions will help them reach their goals
Believe that improving relationships is an important part of decision-making
Now report that they now have a process for decision-making
Rated themselves as confident or somewhat confident in their decision-making
Reported awareness of their decision-making
Now plan on acting in a way that takes other decision-making styles into account.
Felt confident that after making a decision they knew how to implement it.
Feel well-equipped to gather facts and evidence to help them make their decisions.
Many students reported that the Decisive curriculum contributed to their learning, confidence in making big decisions, and to being aware of the importance of including other stakeholders to solve problems holistically. Students also demonstrated both an ability to immediately use the AREA Method skills and to teach those skills to others.
Here’s what a few students had to say:
- “The modules helped me figure out how I think. Learning the AREA Method curriculum also showed me that we don’t usually think about how we make decisions. I even used it in my internship helping 5th graders. I taught them about strategic stops called “Cheetah Pauses.” They understood it and it made them more comfortable. The modules were good and really helped me -and others.”
- “I used Decisive with elementary school students in my internship and during my college orientation experience. When I got to orientation my name was mistaken for a male name and I was assigned a male roommate and dormitory. I had to figure out how to handle the situation because the school had no vacancy for a female roommate. AREA and Decisive helped me frame the problem, put it in context and make the best of the situation.”
The schools and national educational nonprofit that partnered with Decisive AREA Method had an overwhelmingly positive response. Eighty percent of Decisive’s partners believed that the program gave students the opportunity to learn how to be more confident decision makers. They observed that students were immediately able to apply their new decision-making skills for themselves, and, equally importantly, could teach the program to others.
Partner feedback included:
- “Decisive is a user friendly and meaningful experience. Thank everyone involved for making this an easy experience for all of us –administrators, teachers and for our students.”
- “The AREA Method should be used district-wide. Decision-making applies to every class and every lifetime event.”
Would you like to be a part of teaching young adults to make their big decisions better? If so: Contact us! And: For NYC public schools, Decisive is an approved vendor for the Department of Education’s College and Career Access program which means that the DOE offers funding support for Decisive’s implementation in your school! To learn more, email firstname.lastname@example.org.