S1.16 - Decision Making

Decision-making is acting upon a preference. A decision is the result of going through a process of inquiry that incorporates choice making and then deciding and being determined to pursue the achievement of the decision (Wehmeyer, 1997).

Some decisions will probably turn out to be good and other decisions will be bad. Decision-making would be easier if we always knew what the outcome might be. Unfortunately, the outcome is usually a best guess. One method of improving decision-making is to practice using a good decision-making process such as the one outlined below.

Step 1: Define the problem or identify the purpose of your decision.

What do you need to make a decision about? Maybe you want to save some money in order to buy a CD player. Your friends are frequently asking you to go to the movies or to go shopping with them. You don’t want to upset your friends but you really want that new CD player.

Step 2: Make a list of all the possible options of acting on your preference.

Sometimes the best decision will be very clear when you list your options. Consider the following choices when trying to figure out how to save money for a CD player and still socialize with your friends. Some possible choices in this decision include:

Step 3: Identify what you think the outcome of each choice might be.

You are never going to know exactly what the outcome of a decision might be until you make the decision. However, listing the possible outcomes may lead to some additional alternatives. For example, some possible outcomes might include:

Step 4: Determine how likely each outcome (good and bad) is to occur.

Some outcomes may be more likely than others. It is not always possible to know the outcome for any decision. However, our past experiences might help us to identify what outcomes are more likely than other outcomes.

Step 5: How important are these different outcomes.

Consider the importance of the different outcomes with the likelihood that the outcome will occur and then make a decision. Your decision should be based on the likelihood of the outcomes as well as what is best for you in the long run.

Step 6: Act on the decision.

The last thing you have to do is actually carry out your decision. If, in the above example, you decided to save the money for a CD player and to invite your friends over to watch a movie then you have to call them up and ask them to come over.


Page updated 10/30/06

End of basic content. Credits, navigation links and, where relevant, reference citations follow.

All instructional content © Copyright 2006 by Michael L. Wehmeyer, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.
Website developed and hosted by Disability Policy and Studies (DPS) and the Curators of the University of Missouri.
If you have difficulty with or questions about this website, contact DPS at 573 882-3807 or the webmaster at standifers[at]missouri.edu

Web Resources

Hughes, Carolyn. (n.d.) Teaching choice and decision-making using the adaptability model. In Project techlink, Self-management and self-determination strategies: Promoting independence in the transition to adult life. Retrieved December 15, 2003, from Virginia Commonwealth University Web site: http://www.vcu.edu/rrtcweb/techlink/GEB/hughes/tc8f3.html

Michigan State University Counseling Center. (2003). Overview of decision making. Retrieved February 25, 2004 from Michigan State University Counseling Center Web site: http://www.couns.msu.edu/self-help/decisions.htm


Beyth-Marom, R., Fischhoff, B., Jacobs Quadrel, M., & Furby, L. (1991). Teaching decision making to adolescents: A critical review. In J. Baron, & Brown, R.V. (Eds.). Teaching decision making to adolescents (pp. 19-59). Hillsdale, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Wehmeyer, M. (1997). Student-directed learning and self-determination. In M. Agran (Ed.), Student directed learning: Teaching self-determination skills (pp. 28-59). Pacific Grove, Ca: Brook/Cole.

Wehmeyer, M.L., Agran, M., Palmer, S.B., & Mithaug, D. (1999). Educational support: Choice- and decision-making instruction. In A teacher’s guide to implementing the self-determined learning model of instruction: Adolescent version (pp. 54-62). Unpublished manuscript, University of Kansas, Beach Center on Disability, Lawrence.

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

More Than A JobModule 1Module 2 Supports - You Are HereAbout this site