Better Decisions - Better Lives
Message from Dave Lenowitz, DEF Executive Director
this is the first newsletter we've sent since I officially came onboard
in May, I've been working as a supporter of the DEF team for several
years. Throughout my career, I've been fortunate to work in
organizations where the development of decision skills was strongly
endorsed. It is this experience which underpins my strong belief in the
importance of DEF's mission. Though not without its challenges, I
believe DEF has an opportunity to significantly improve the lives of our
youth and provide them with tools which will benefit them throughout
their lives. I'm privileged to be offered the chance to help meet these
challenges and realize these opportunities.
The attached newsletter
will give you a sense of what we've been doing to move our mission
forward. Of special note is the success of our Stanford summer workshops
and the upcoming launch of two important initiatives--the College
Choice Workshops and Decision Making for Teens, an interactive
Web-based course. With these programs we're extending the scale of the
student populations we can reach, and providing tools for specific
Also, we're delighted to
welcome three new members to our Advisory Council: Ron Biscardi,
Managing Director, Context Capital Partners; Jared Curhan, Ford
International Career Development Professor and Associate Professor of
Organization Studies, MIT Sloan School of Management; and Sandra Navidi,
Director of Research Strategies, Roubini Global Economics, LLC. With
these appointments, we continue to extend the diverse backgrounds and
extensive experience of the council.
If you would like to know
more about any of our programs and people--or if you would like to
become involved in helping DEF move forward during the coming year,
please contact me at email@example.com.
DEF Completes Fourth Series of Summer Educator
Workshops at Stanford
Teachers, youth counselors, and administrators from across the U.S.
gathered at Stanford University in June to learn more about decision
education and how to incorporate decision skills training into their
programs. In collaboration with the Stanford Center for Professional
Development, DEF presented two 2 ½-day courses--Decision
Quality for Educators
, plus a new advanced course, Decision
Quality for Educators: Part II.
Program and Materials Score High Marks
with Attendees! Course evaluations indicate that both workshops
were highly rated in terms of content, activities, and relevance to
classroom needs. Among the comments we heard from participants:
"The knowledge and
models presented in this course are essential to the development of
healthy people and happy
re-defines my commitment to helping kids make better decisions."
was incredibly valuable and the content was relevant to my work."
Education is an MBA for life."
applies to my school's faculty and students. I hope to work with both
On a six-point scale,
overall course experience received a mean rating of 5.25 for the
fundamentals course and 5.47 for the advanced course.
During the workshops,
participants tackled adolescent-relevant decision problems using
empirical tools and decision-making principles, and team case studies.
They also explored sample lesson plans and materials suitable for use in
a variety of classroom settings. Several nationally-known educators
served as guest speakers, including Jean Orvis, founder of the Seattle
Academy of Arts and Sciences, and Stanford Professor of Education Denise
The DEF educator
workshop series now includes four courses:
Decision Quality for Educators, DEF's
popular basics course, which has been offered at Stanford, in the
Philadelphia area, and at various onsite teacher trainings across the
country for the past four years.
Decision Quality for Educators: Part II
Teaching Decision Skills in Humanities
Improving Advisory and Counseling with
With the exception of
the new advanced course, all are available online through Stanford's
Center for Professional Development.
Brown (Haverford) receives his certificate
Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP)* Program
Director Cinnie Slack presented a three-hour workshop, "Empowering
Students for Better Decision Making," at the 2010 KIPP School Summit
(KSS), held in Las Vegas. At this annual conference, KIPP teachers and
administrators from around the country gather for three days of
professinal development and resource sharing. The DEF presentation was
part of the Critical Thinking track.
About KIPP: *KIPP is a
national network of free, open-enrollment, college-preparatory public
schools that work to prepare students in underserved communities for
success in college and in life. With 99 KIPP schools in 20 states and
the District of Columbia, KIPP serves more than 26,000 students.
DEF continued working with four Iowa schools
participating in the federally funded KC STAAR
(Keokuk County Schools Tactics for Alcohol Abuse Reduction) program. In
June, Senior Program Director Chris Spetzler held a three-day training
session during which attendees from DEF's 2009 Stanford workshops shared
their experiences teaching DEF material in the classroom. these
sessions extended the trained teacher base within the four schools. As a
follow-up, DEF is working with students who were exposed to the
training to evaluate its impact.
High School in Springfield, Oregon (the site of DEF's current yearlong
evaluation project), eight teachers, counselors, and staff members
attended a training workshop given by Chris Spetzler in August. The
objective of the workshop was to study the decision-making model by
applying it to a current issue and to set the stage for potential future
DEF work with the full Thurston teaching staff.
At the 2010 National Teen
Success Stakeholders conference in Burlingame, California, Program
Director John Frazier gave a Decision Quality fundamentals training for
Teen Success facilitators from across the country. Administered by the
Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the TeenSuccess program works
directly with pregnant and parenting teens, ages 12-18, offering weekly
support group meetings. At the support meetings, participants learn
skills to maintain their family size, complete their education, and
develop life skills that lead to self-sufficiency.
|Decision Making for
Teens: DEF's First Online Course
We are making
solid progress with the development of our online* course and expect to
have a beta version for review by students and teachers before
year-end. Targeted at students in late middle and early high school (a
critical stage in academic and emotional development), the online course
will present the basics of good decision making using a variety of
interactive teaching devices.
Our goal is
to create an engaging experience designed for direct delivery to
students. Complementary classroom exercises and a teacher's guide will
be included in the course to enhance and reinforce the online
experience. We believe that this leveraging of available technology will
simplify the adoption of decision education by providing wider and
lower-cost distribution of DEF's materials.
working with young people, educators, e-learning developers, and
decision science professionals to make our vision a reality, and to
ensure that the DEF online course motivates and engages teens, meeting
them "where they are."
Tuned! It looks like we're almost there--with the launch of a
pilot program scheduled for early January.
research indicates that an engaging Internet-based course is a powerful
means of reaching young people quickly and effectively. In fact, the
popularity of online courses as an instructional delivery method is
growing daily, with a prediction by education experts that half of all
K-12 students in the U.S. will be taking courses online in the next
College Choice Program
Every year, millions of students face the decision of
where to attend college--or whether to attend college at all. For most
young people, these decisions are unprecedented in complexity and
importance, and in the anxiety created among students and their
families. They are also unprecedented in terms of the typical family's
expenditures for such items as test preparation, counseling, campus
college decision market receives substantial attention from both
for-profit and nonprofit organizations, statistics suggest that existing
advisory programs leave something to be desired--only 56 percent of
students entering a four-year college or university graduate in six
years; only 28 percent of students entering community college graduate
in three years; and 24 percent of first-time freshmen do not return for
their sophomore year. [NCES, IPED 2007 Enrollment Survey].
The DEF Solution. DEF's
workshop for students and parents will provide families the tools they
need to organize and execute their college decision-making process. Our
approach departs from the usual standard--instead of focusing on
gathering information about colleges, it will focus on how to arrive at
the highest quality decision about where to apply and once accepted,
where to attend. We have designed a three-part course, emphasizing the
elements of decision quality, with "Frame and Values" in the first part,
"Alternatives and Information" in the second, and "Sound Reasoning and
Commitment to Follow Through" in the third. Ideally, these will be
spread out across a student's sophomore and junior years in order to
align with the overall college preparation process.
We held our first pilot session
on October 2 in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania. The audience consisted
of approximately 50 students and their parents, all of whom have
expressed a strong commitment to attending college.
toma buenas decisiones?
Quality Fundamentals Booklet Now Available in
DEF has released a Spanish version of its cornerstone publication, Decision
Quality: The Fundamentals of Making Good Decisions. Written by
decision science practitioners Tom Keelin, Paul Schoemaker, and Carl
Spetzler, the booklet introduces the key concepts, knowledge, and skills
necessary to make good decisions. For educators, it can serve as a
guide for lesson planning; for students, it can help introduce and
reinforce classroom lessons and activities.
the English and Spanish editions of the booklet are available on the DEF
been working for over a year on an important initiative--how to evaluate
the efficacy and impact of our decision skills training model. Since
its inception, DEF has gathered informal observations and reports from
teachers and students regarding the impact of our programs. Now we're
beginning to receive the results of a yearlong study performed at
Thurston High School in Springfield, Oregon. The study, designed to
assess both immediate and longitudial measures, involved a randomly
selected experimental and control gorup of students. Initial findings,
which we have just received, are very encouraging. We will be examining
the data more closely over the next few months.
Better Decisions - Better Lives is
produced twice yearly by The Decision Education Foundation. If you would
like to contribute to this newsletter, or if you have
comments/corrections, please contact our editor, Betty Skov,