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Getting and keeping a job often requires special education or training. While an employer may provide or pay for some additional education or training, workers often have to obtain it on their own. In this lesson, students use a weighted decision-making grid to choose a school that provides education or training for their chosen field of employment. Students use both financial and non-financial criteria in weighting their alternatives. If the teacher desires, the decision grid can be created by means of a computer spreadsheet. Students discover that major decisions like this one often involve trade-offs—getting less of one thing in exchange for more of something else. A weighted decision-making process can help them make the choice that best fits their interests and circumstances.
Tell the students there was a time when a person was hired for a job, and he or she then could count on the employer to provide training on the job. Today, more and more employers expect workers to have education and training beyond a high school degree before hiring them. And learning doesn’t end once a person is hired; it will continue throughout a person’s life in response to changes in the work world. While an employer may provide or at least pay for some of the education and training needed, workers often have to obtain some additional education on their own. Chances are students will have to invest their own time, money, and effort to continue their education throughout their lifetimes.
Explain that the students are going to explore their options for getting additional education or training after high school. For some, this will mean enrollment in a college degree program; others may want to explore a vocational or technical program. If some of your students are considering the military after high school, they also can use the decision process you'll introduce here . They should include various branches of the military among their alternatives.
Introduce the students to the five-step decision-making process that uses a weighted grid to help them make a major choice—selecting an education or training program after high school. It is assumed students have already invested some time thinking about their post-high school employment interests.
The students can print copies of the decision grid individually, but you may prefer to make copies in advance and distribute them at this time.
[NOTE: If your students are familiar with spreadsheets, this is an excellent opportunity for them to apply this knowledge. Have them work individually or in teams creating a spreadsheet that duplicates the elements of the decision-making grid. They can enter formulas that will automatically total the weighted scores for each alternative.]
STEP 1: State the Problem
Encourage the students to be as specific as possible in identifying the type of school and learning program that is right for them. If they need help, encourage them to visit these Web pages:
Direct the students to state their problem at the top of one copy of the Weighted Decision Grid.
STEP 2: Define and Weight the Criteria
Explain that choosing a school can involve many criteria. Criteria are standards people consider in making a decision. Some of the most common ones people consider are provided on this checklist. After they review the checklist, the students should consider and respond to the following:
STEP 3: Identify the Alternatives
In this step, the students identify at least two specific schools and programs as alternatives for solving their problem. If time allows, you may want them to increase the number of alternatives to three or four. In real life, there are frequently more than two options.
The students write a different school or program name in the boxes marked "alternatives" on their decision grids. They will need extra copies of the Grid if they have more than two alternatives. Ideally, the students should write their criteria on one grid and make copies of this page. This reduces their time on task and the chance of making an error in transferring information to other pages.
Encourage those who need help finding specific schools that offer a program of interest to them, or assistance in narrowing down their choices, to visit one or more of these Web sites:
STEP 4: Evaluate the Alternatives
Using the information provided by the Web links in Step 3 and school Web sites, the students evaluate each alternative according to their criteria, using a scale of 1 to 10, with fulfilling the criterion completely and one not fulfilling it at all.
Give the students specific directions:
Now look at you the data on your grid and consider:
STEP 5: Make a Decision
In the fifth step the students make their decisions, using the information gathered. Here, point out that there is probably no perfect choice. As with most big decisions, there will be trade-offs–getting a little more of one thing in exchange for a little less of something else. A student who wanted to go to school in another state may realize that it is less expensive to stay closer to home. In that case, cost may outweigh the excitement of a new place. For someone else, the quality of the program may be more important than money. In this case, a benefit may outweigh a cost.
After the students have completed their decision-grids and made their choices, have them do the following online interactive activity and discuss their answers as a class.
A weighted decision-making process is a valuable tool for evaluating choices that are complex and have major consequences. The grid offers an organized way to consider lots of options in light of many different factors (criteria). It helps the decision maker clarify options and see the trade-offs. It increases the chances of making the best choice.
Have the students:
Assessment is based on student completion of the weighted decision-making grid and preparation of short papers concerning their choices. In the papers, the students should explain their choices and identify trade-offs they had to make. This assessment rubric provides a model for your use in scoring student work.