Executive Function and Decision Making: Helping Students Make Informed Choices

Executive Function and Decision Making: Helping Students Make Informed Choices

As educators, we play a critical role in preparing students for success in the real world. One key aspect of this is helping students develop executive function strategies, including the ability to think critically and make informed decisions. Executive function is essential for success in all areas of life, including academics, career, and personal relationships. It is also particularly important when it comes to decision-making.

In today’s world, students are faced with a wide range of choices, from what to eat for breakfast to what college to attend. Many of these decisions have long-lasting consequences, making it crucial for students to be able to weigh their options and make informed choices. So how can we help students develop these critical decision-making skills? Here are a few strategies to consider.

Gather Information

Before making a decision, students should gather as much information as possible. Encourage them to research different options, talk to experts or trusted individuals, and prioritize the potential outcomes of each choice.

Consider the Consequences

Students need to understand that every decision has consequences, both positive and negative. Encourage them to think through the potential outcomes of each choice and consider how those outcomes align with their goals and values.

Reflect on Past Decisions

Learning from past experiences is an important part of developing good decision-making skills. Encourage students to reflect on past decisions they have made and consider what they might have done differently.

Provide Opportunities for Practice

Like any other skill, decision-making requires practice. Provide opportunities for students to make choices in a safe and supportive environment, such as through classroom activities or simulations.

By helping students develop strong executive function skills and providing opportunities to practice decision-making, we can prepare them to make informed choices and achieve their goals.

  • Caitlin Vanderberg, M.Ed., SMARTS Associate

SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum: smarts-ef.org 

Research Institute for Learning and Development: researchild.org