The past and the future influence the present, for decision makers are persuaded by historical patterns and styles of decision making based on social, political, and economic context, with an eye to planning, predicting, forecasting, in a sense, “futuring.” From the middle to the late 20th century, four models (rational-bureaucratic, participatory, political, and organized anarchy) embody ways of decision making that provide an historical grounding for decision makers in the first quarter of the 21st century. From the late 20th through the first two decades of the 21st century, decision makers have focused on ethical decision making, social justice, and decision making within communities. After the first two decades of the 21st century, decision making and its associative research is about holding tensions, crossing boundaries, and intersections. Decision makers will continually hold the tension between intuition and evidence as drivers of decisions. Promising research possibilities may include understanding metacognition and its role in decision making, between individual approaches to decision making and the group dynamic, stakeholders’ engagement in communicating and executing decisions, and studying the control of who has what information or who should have it. Furthermore, decision making most likely will continue to evolve towards an adaptive approach with an abundance of tools and techniques to improve both the praxis and the practice of decision making dynamics. Accordingly, trends in future research in decision making will span disciplines and emphases, encompassing transdisciplinary approaches wherein investigators work collaboratively to understand and possibly create new conceptual, theoretical, and methodological models or ways of thinking about and making decisions.
JoAnn Danelo Barbour
Dalun Zhang, Yi-Fan Li, and Melina Cavazos
Self-determination refers to a set of skills that helps individuals with disabilities control their life and achieve better inclusive outcomes. In special education, self-determination is often conceptualized as an educational outcome, which recognizes the important role that education plays in the development of student self-determination skills. Consequently, a number of educational practices have been developed to teach students with disabilities these essential skills. Some of the practices focus on helping students to acquire and maintain these skills; others focus on developing a conducive environment that allows and encourages individuals with disabilities to apply and exercise self-determination skills. Research has provided empirical evidence to support the need for teaching self-determination skills to students with disabilities. A number of evidence-based practices have been recommended for schools and parents to use in teaching these skills to students with disabilities. Some of the strategies focus on creating conducive environments that provide opportunities for individuals with disabilities to apply and exercise self-determination skills; others provide suggestions to families regarding what they can do to promote self-determination. A particular focus is on instructional practices because of the strong link between education and self-determination. Some popular instructional practices include teaching choice-making, self-management instruction, involving students in the transition planning process, and teaching self-determination skills through a self-determination curriculum such as the ChoiceMaker Curriculum, Steps to Self-Determination, Whose Future Is It Anyway?, Next S.T.E.P. Curriculum, Self-Advocacy Strategy, and Self-Determined Learning Model for Instruction (SDMLI).
Anna Saiti and Theodoros Stefou
When using the hierarchical approach, one delegates duties from the upper to the lower levels of a hierarchical structure. This system is characterized by an echelon arrangement (“a pyramid organization”), which gives the impression of a pyramid. This kind of structure is the simplest type of work distribution and is based upon the Fayol principles, namely, the unity of administration and a hierarchical scale. Certainly, this system of organizational structure (as with any system) has both advantages and disadvantages. A hierarchical approach expresses the classical view of the organizational structure and may be implemented in any kind or size of organization. If organizations are to enhance employees’ motivation and team spirit then employees’ perceptions are an important tool. Within this framework, individuals in the military and educational sector have a rather sensitive working environment, one quite different from other sectors. Leadership is without doubt the most essential part of any organization and is key for the efficient performance and continued development of an organization. Flexible networks, open communication processes, and leaders with vision and a creative, constructive, and positive spirit favorably affect employees’ feelings and enhance innovation and fluidity. Taking into consideration that a highly hierarchical system may adversely affect incentives to exert effort as well as the efficiency of communication channels, one may consider the importance of the contribution of a leader and the development of leadership as an acute issue that has a significant impact upon staff morale and efficient performance, especially in military and educational sector.
Mark Carter, Jennifer Stephenson, and Sarah Carlon
The term data-based decision-making can refer to a wide range of practices from formative classroom use of monitoring in order to improve instruction to system-wide use of “big” data to guide educational policy. Within the context of special education, a primary focus has been on the formative classroom use of data to guide teachers in improving instruction for individual students. For teachers, this typically involves the capacity to (1) determine what data need to be collected to appropriately monitor the skill being taught, (2) collect that data, (3) interpret the data and make appropriate decisions, and (4) implement changes as needed. A number of approaches to such data-based decision-making have evolved, including precision teaching, curriculum-based assessment, and curriculum-based measurement. Evidence from systematic reviews and meta-analyses indicates instruction incorporating data-based decision-making has positive effects on outcomes for students with special education needs although the size of these effects has been variable. While the extent of the research base is modest, there are indications that some specific factors may be related to this variability. For example, the use of decision-making rules and graphic display of data appears to improve student outcomes and the frequency of data collection may differentially affect improvement. The presence and frequency of support offered to teachers may also be important to student outcomes. There is a need to increase our research base examining data-based decision-making and, more specifically, a need to more clearly define and characterize moderators that contribute to its effectiveness. In addition, there is a case for research on the wider use of data on student outcomes to inform broader policy and practice.
Richard E. Mayer
Problem solving refers to cognitive processing directed at achieving a goal when the problem solver does not initially know a solution method. A problem exists when someone has a goal but does not know how to achieve it. Problems can be classified as routine or non-routine, and as well-defined or ill-defined. The major cognitive processes in problem solving are representing, planning, executing, and monitoring. The major kinds of knowledge required for problem solving are facts, concepts, procedures, strategies, and beliefs. The theoretical approaches that have developed over the history of research on problem are associationism, Gestalt, and information processing. Each of these approaches involves fundamental issues in problem solving such as the nature of transfer, insight, and goal-directed heuristics, respectively. Some current research topics in problem solving include decision making, intelligence and creativity, teaching of thinking skills, expert problem solving, analogical reasoning, mathematical and scientific thinking, everyday thinking, and the cognitive neuroscience of problem solving. Common theme concerns the domain specificity of problem solving and a focus on problem solving in authentic contexts.
Özgür Önen and Burcu Tibet
How many times do people encounter an ethical dilemma within a day? Many of them, probably, say more than one. Frequently encountering ethically questionable situations which have heavy costs to both business and educational organizations is very common. It is crucial to understand how teachers, for example, make decisions when they are faced with ethically questionable situations, such as intimate relationship offers or dishonest grading desires. Indeed, every individual involved with schools—not only teachers, but principals, students, and even parents—are faced with ethically questionable situations, forcing them to choose between right and wrong, possibly benefiting themselves or the ones they are close to and/or harming innocent others. So, increasing knowledge on how individuals make judgments and act when they are confronted a dilemma is important. Which factors affects ethical decisions? Do people simply choose the options granting their positions or beneficial for them in some way? A review of theoretical models of ethical decision-making revealed that existing models need to be modified in order to cover some ignored aspects. Additionally, there seems to be a need to add new constructs to the moral intensity factor: ease of the act and magnitude of the gain are possible issue contingents to be considered. Furthermore, empirical findings, in general, present contradictory results on proposed factors affecting ethical decision-making. However, some factors, such as moral intensity and reward–sanction systems, were found to consistently affect decisions on ethically questionable issues. There are, nonetheless, many finer points to be understood regarding what exactly is happening when people face dilemmas. This suggests new studies need to be conducted.
Social studies education has had a turbulent history as one of the core subjects in the school curriculum. The fundamental content of the social studies curriculum – the study of human enterprise across space and time –however, has always been at the core of educational endeavors. It is generally accepted that the formal introduction of social studies to the school curriculum was instigated by the 1916 report of the National Education Association’s Committee on Social Studies, which emphasized development of citizenship values as a core aim of history and social science education. Earlier commissions of the N.E.A. and American Historical Association heavily influenced the Committee on Social Studies recommendations. The roots of the contemporary social studies curriculum, therefore, can be traced to two distinct curriculum reform efforts: the introduction of academic history into the curriculum and citizenship education. There is widespread agreement that the aim of social studies is citizenship education, that is the preparation of young people so that they possess the knowledge, skills, and values necessary for active participation in society. This apparent consensus, however, has been described as almost meaningless because social studies educators continue to be at odds over curricular content as well as the conception of what it means to be a good citizen. Since its formal introduction into the school, social studies curriculum been the subject of numerous commission and blue-ribbon panel studies, ranging from the sixteen-volume report of the American Historical Association’s Commission on Social Studies in the 1930s to the more recent movement for national curriculum standards. Separate and competing curriculum standards have been published for no less than seven areas of that are part of the social studies curriculum: United States and global history, economics, geography, civics, psychology, and social studies. Social studies curriculum is defined a lack of consensus and has been an ideological battleground with ongoing debates over its nature, purpose, and content. Historically there have been a diverse range of curricular programs that have been a prominent within social studies education at various times, including the life adjustment movement, progressive education, social reconstructionism, and nationalistic history. The debate over the nature, purpose, and content of the social studies curriculum continues today, with competing groups variously arguing for a social issues approach, the disciplinary study of history and geography, or action for social justice as the most appropriate framework for the social studies curriculum.