S1.15 - Choice Making

Making a choice is the process of selecting from two or more alternatives or indicating preferences (Wehmeyer, 1997). Choice making is an integral part of being self-determined because each person must be free to express his or her preferences in order to direct where and how his or her life is going. Once preferences have been established through choice making, the decision making process begins.

Many times in life people have to make choices. The choices can range from basic to complex but all have one thing in common, “What does the person prefer?” Below is a three step process that will help you to figure out what the person’s preference is.

Step 1: Identify the problem/issue that requires a choice

Before a choice can be made, a problem or issue must be present that requires a choice. For example, every morning you go to work. But before you can go to work you have to figure out what shirt you are going to wear. The problem has just presented itself, “What shirt are you going to wear today?”

Step 2: Look at all options available to you

Once the problem has been identified, you must then look at the options presented to you. If we continue with the above scenario, when you open your closet, you would see three shirts: red, blue, and white. Therefore, your options are to wear red, white or blue.

Step 3: Choose which of the options most appeal to you

The last step in the decision making process is to state your preference of the options. You may prefer the red shirt over the blue or white, so you choose to wear the red shirt to work today. By choosing one over the others, you are showing or stating your preference.


Page updated 11/2/06

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Web Resources

DisabilityInfo.gov. (n.d.). Community life: Choice and self-determination. (n.d.). Retrieved July 16, 2004, from www.disabilityinfo.gov/digov-public/public/DisplayPage.do?parentFolderId=194

Nelis, T. & Pederson, E. (n.d.). National training initiative in developing choice making, self determination and advocacy skills. In RRTC on Aging with Development Disabilities: Training and technical assistance (1998-2003). Retrieved July 30, 2004 from University of Illinois at Chicago Web site: http://www.uic.edu/orgs/rrtcamr/training7_1.htm

Hughes, C. (n.d.) How to teach choice and decision-making. In Self- management and self-determination strategies: Promoting independence in the transition to adult life: Increasing students’ choice and decision making (Topic 4): Teaching students choice and decision making. Retrieved December 15, 2003 from Virginia Commonwealth University Web site: http://www.vcu.edu/rrtcweb/techlink/GEB/hughes/tc8f2.html


Agran, M. (1997). Student directed learning: teaching self-determination skills. Detroit, MI: Brooks/Cole Publishing Company.

Doll and Sands (1998). Choice and decision making instruction. In M.L. Wehmeyer, M. Agran, S. Palmer, and D. Mithaug. A teacher’s guide to implementing the self-determined learning model of instruction: adolescent version (pp. 57). Arlington, TX: The Arc of the United States.

Field, S., Martin, J., Miller, R. J., Ward, M., Wehmeyer, M. J., & Wehmeyer, M.L. (1998). A practical guide for teaching self-determination. Reston, VA: Division on Career Development and Transition (CEC).

Gilson, S.F. (1998). Choice and self-advocacy: a consumer’s perspective. In Wehman, P., and Kregel, J. (Eds.), More than a job: securing satisfying careers for people with disabilities (pp. 3-23). Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes.

Wehmeyer, M.L., Agran, M., & Hughes, C. (1998). Assessing preference and teaching choice making. In M. Wehmeyer, M. Agran, and C. Hughes (Eds.), Teaching self-determination to students with disabilities: Basic skills for successful transition (pp. 97-118). Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes.

Wehmeyer, M. L., Palmer, S. Agran, M., Mithaug, D.E., & Martin, J.E. (1998). The self-determined learning model of instruction. Arlington, TX: The Arc of the United States.

Supports 1 Index | S1.01 | S1.02 | S1.03 | S2.04 | S2.05 | S1.06 | S1.07 | S1.08 | S1.09 | S1.10 | S1.11 | S1.12 | S1.13 | S1.14 | S1.15 | S1.16 | S1.17 | S1.18

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