Dynamic Decision Making


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What does it take to become a good decision maker? Good ideas? Strong opinions? Risk taking? This lesson will give you a chance to practice your decision making skills, from fast food choices to career options!


In this lesson, you will learn to use the PACED Model. It will help you solve problems and reach decisions. You will also learn to compare the costs and benefits that come with the decisions you make.


Here are some decision-making concepts to help you in solving problems: identify the problem; brainstorm alternative solutions to the problem; use criteria to judge the alternatives; evaluate the solution. These terms are used in the PACED Model:

  • Problem
  • Alternatives
  • Criteria
  • Evaluate
  • Decision Making

Using a PACED matrix or grid will help you visualize the decision making process. We'll practice using this model with some food decisions first; then we'll use the model to help identify future careers that may work for you!

Let's start with identifying a problem. Here's an easy one for you: it's almost noon and your stomach is growling! Problem? You're hungry! Now on to brainstorming Alternatives! The word alternatives means different choices you can use to solve your problem. To get some lunch Alternatives, go to this website . Check out the choices! Now go to this website . Then click on "Menu". Anything look good? Now try Pizza Huts website . Then click on "Our Menu ". I bet you're really hungry now!

Write down four possible menu ideas as Alternatives for a fast food lunch. Now we need to develop criteria-- that is, reasons used to judge our lunch alternatives. Can you think of a good criterion (one Criteria) to help us decide? How about "favorite food"? If this lunch is one of your favorites, that should make a difference in the decision process! Another criterion might be "healthiest food". Does your choice include a meat, vegetable, and dairy product? Is it low in fat? Finding out if the food you are eating for lunch is healthy should definitely be a part of your decision making! To find out out nutritious a food item is, visit the Fat Calories Web site and look it up!


PACED Model: Lunch

Type in your three menu alternatives in the boxes down the left hand side column. Now look at the three criterion at the top of the chart. Start with your first alternative and judge that food using each criterion from left to right. Use:


  • happy faces happy_face
  • plain faces plain_face
  • sad faces sad_face

For example, if you think a BK Whopper is one of your favorite foods, give it a happy face in the top left box. If it's not a favorite, give it a sad face. If it's 'in the middle', give it a plain face. Continue judging that alternative and fill in the boxes across the first row. Now do the same with the other menu alternatives. The lunch with the most happy faces wins!! (If you have a tie, think of one more criterion to judge the foods, like "restaurant location".)

As you were narrowing down your lunch alternatives by making choices based on criteria, you were giving up other choices. The top alternative you gave up before making your final decision was your opportunity cost. An opportunity cost is always your second place choice. Which lunch was your opportunity cost? Which lunch was your final choice? Type your answers on the lines below the PACED model.

Now let's go on to a tougher problem: making a future career choice. There are so many job choices--how will you ever decide? Go to the online career center and click on the Jobs link. Listed are the career link sites for participating states. Find your state's link and select it. From there, you will need to select the jobs link (most are found on the upper left hand corner of the page). This will enable you to choose different careers and when you select Click on the "careers" for an alphabetical list of job opportunities. (Once selected, all available jobs under selected listing will appear.) Make a list of three jobs that look interesting to you, with their career cluster areas. Click on your first job possibility and read about that career. Now click on and read about the other choices.

Let's use the PACED Model to help you narrow down your choices.


PACED Model: Jobs

Type in your three job choices as alternatives down the left-hand side. For criteria, we'll use the topics under the job titles to help us: “Future Possibilities” (Will there be lots of jobs in this career area in the future?); “Education” (How much education or training will you need and are you willing to get this education?) and “Working Conditions” (Does the work and the number of hours sound right for you?). Now complete the PACED Model, following the same steps you used to choose your lunch.

Now let's look at our costs and benefits! Did you have to give up a job you were interested in because it will take many more years of school to prepare for it as compared to other jobs? That's a cost. Did you find a job that allowed you to move up in the future? That's a benefit! See if you can think of one more cost and benefit on your own to list on the lines below the PACED Model.


Which career got the most happy faces? Were you surprised? This MAY be the job of your future! Remember to use the PACED Model to help you make decisions whenever possible! The PACED steps of Problem, Alternatives, Criteria, Evaluate, and Decision making help us to make choices more easily. Don't forget to compare the costs and benefits of your choices, so that you can make wiser decisions!


1. Answer the questions in the activity below to show what you have learned. Be prepared to share your answers with the class.


  1. What does each letter of the PACE Model stand for? Write a sentence to explain each key word.
  2. What is a cost in decision making? What is a benefit?
  3. Explain how the PACE Model helps us make more informed decisions.

2. Print a copy of the PACED Model grid. Complete the grid, using the following problem: “What type of pet should I choose?'” Think of four pet alternatives and three criteria to use in judging each alternative. Which pet did you choose? Share your results with the class. Brainstorm other examples of decisions that could be made by using the PACED Model.


  1. Would you like to continue to learn about the dream job in the your future? Try doing more career research at this career profile website.
  2. If you'd like to learn more about how your education affects the amount of money you'll earn, go to the Bureau of Labor Statistic's website. Information at this site compares educational levels (high school, college, and higher) to salary levels (the amount of money you'll earn in a year). Could the salary you earn affect your career decision? Why or why not?