Improvement in Academic Performance and Decision Competence of Sophomores in US History with Integrated DEF Curriculum
“We were convinced of the value of DEF’s curriculum before the study,” explains Springfield Schools Superintendent, Nancy Golden. “It’s exciting to see the benefits demonstrated conclusively, so that other educators and institutions will recognize the importance of teaching decision skills."
A year-long study establishing the benefits of including decision education within a school’s US History curriculum was published in PLOS ONE, an international, peer reviewed journal. The enhanced curriculum, incorporating the Decision Quality framework of the Decision Education Foundation, included both normative and behavioral decision science principles to approach historical scenarios.
Conducted with students at Thurston High School in Springfield, Ore., the randomized study demonstrates how integrating decision skills training into U.S. history instruction can improve both students’ academic performance and decision skills. Sophomores in U.S. history courses with the decision skills curriculum scored better on a national assessment of history knowledge (NAEP), in addition to outperforming peers on measures of decision-making competence. The improvement of over five percent on the NAEP is broadly equivalent to improving a student’s grade from a B+ to an A.
That students also registered improvement in decision competence shows that decision skills can be learned. Prior research confirms that performing better on the validated measure of decision-making skill is positively correlated with improved life outcomes. Since both endpoints of the study showed a statistically significant effect, the outcome represents a strong indication of the benefits of incorporating a decision focus in classrooms.