Online Class: Decision Making Skills

Learn how to make effective decisions in this self-paced, online course.

no certificate
- OR -
with CEU Certificate*
Start Right Now!
$95.00 (with CEU Certificate)
Taking multiple courses? Save with our platinum program.
  • 14
  • 24
    Exams &
  • 1,715
    have taken this course
  • 8
    average time
  • 0.8

Course Description

The Decision-Making Process

The decision-making process is choosing among two or more courses of action for a given situation. Making decisions is a part of everyday life. Some consider it an art, others a proficiency. Decisions may be personal or professional, but, in each case, the choices will often have lasting consequences. In other words, the decisions we make have the potential to affect ourselves and others in the short and long term. Therefore, it is valuable to possess a skill set that will allow you to reflect and weigh alternatives -- finally electing the option that is the most appropriate for each situation.

Experts and laymen, alike, have offered a wealth of suggestions about how to become an accomplished decision maker. Some advocate an elementary approach, such as creating a mental checklist that is habitually referred to when the individual is faced with choices. Others prefer to implement a much more highly complex set of procedures that should end in optimal results.  In this online course, both concepts will be incorporated. In other words, the goal is to maximize the amount of knowledge the learner is given about each component of the course, without overwhelming the individual. In this case, the decision-making process will be separated into four steps, with explanations of how they can be applied in formal and informal situations. This will allow the reader to internalize the process of decision making, while developing an understanding of its application in diverse settings.

Step 1 – Identify the Goal or Problem that Requires a Decision

The first step in the decision-making process is to identify the decision that an individual is facing. The problem may be simple enough to explain with basic language, and that will not ultimately require hours of reflection, such as, "The babysitter didn't show up today and I have to go to work, so now what do I do?" However, this very same challenge might be stated in more eloquent and exaggerated language, such as, "I am required to be on the job site today and our in-home child care worker has failed to appear at our agreed-upon time. It is possible she has decided not to continue her employment with us, and now I must decide how to move forward with this conundrum, both immediately, and long term."

Also, decision making is not always associated with a problem, but can also take the form of goal-setting. For instance, a person may be thinking about their future and say to themselves, "Going to college is probably a good option, if I want to make a lot of money in the future." The aim is apparent, although perhaps addressed somewhat artlessly. Another way this same goal can be clarified might be with more sophisticated verbiage such as, "I am faced with the decision of attending college and postponing employment, or finding a job and joining the workforce immediately. These are choices that require greater investigation." Ultimately, no matter how the problem or goal is identified, the most important point is the essence of the first step in the decision-making process -- to be able to state the problem in plain and understandable verbiage.

Step 2 – Gather Information and Alternatives Associated With Choices

With a clear idea in mind of the decision that a person is facing, the next step is to brainstorm or research all of the possible options. This, too, depends on the seriousness of the challenge faced, and how quickly the decision must be made. If we return to the first example in Step 1, we find a parent who may be moments away from expecting to leave his or her home and head to work, safe in the routine of the caregiver's arrival. Instead, with the chance that the parent is left to fend for themselves at the last minute, he or she is likely to run through a mental list of choices to alleviate the immediate problem, and address it long-term in the following hours or days. Perhaps the parent has family or neighbors to whom they could turn for last-minute babysitting. Another option might be to contact their place of employment and explain the situation, remaining at home and looking for immediate childcare alternatives. No matter what choice the parent makes, they are clearly at Step 2 in the decision-making process -- listing all the possible options and solutions that are available, no matter how extreme they may first appear. In the case of the life choice regarding college attendance, this is a decision that will require greater thought and research. Relevant information will need to be gathered prior to a determination. It is important to remember that this step also includes seeking the advice of experts in the field, and the opinions of trusted family members or associates. Their expertise may provide the decision-maker with real-world and relevant insight that would further advance the process.


Finally, information-gathering will result in the identification of alternatives for each preference, along with the degree to which the choice is viable or desirable. It is important to incorporate these findings into the information-gathering step. By this, what is meant is that your investigation into choices should include acknowledgment of consequences that might affect the pursuit of a particular option, and/or its outcome, or the "good and bad" outcomes that can result from the pursuit of each option. For example, when deciding whether or not to attend college, one of the repercussions of pursuing an advanced education could be that the individual must live with his or her parents, until the degree is complete. This might make the choice less palatable, but should be confirmed as an authentic fallout in Step 2 of the decision-making process.

Step 3 – Make Your Decision

Once the alternatives have been explored extensively, and a list of choices has been generated from which an optimal decision can be made, the natural next step is to actually elect one of the options that have been developed. Now, selecting the best possible solution is also not as easy as it may sound. However, if you have put in the effort to state the problem clearly and investigate your options, then the actual process of deciding on an alternative will be simpler, and you will be able to move forward with greater confidence. Sometimes, when an individual reaches this point of the decision-making process, the best choice from among the opportunities might be evident and stand out from among the rest. For example, in the case of the mother who has last-minute babysitting issues, if all of the choices she can brainstorm include leaving the children with family members, asking a neighbor to watch them, or staying home herself, the first two options might seem salient. But if there are no neighbors or family nearby with whom the person could entrust her children to, then it is obvious she has no choice, but to stay home with the children.

However, in the instance where a young person is mulling over the pros and cons of college attendance, a variety of choices may arise. Perhaps they could attend college part-time and work part-time; or maybe the individual could attend a less expensive university, freeing up some cash for moving out of the home. Here, there is a broader spectrum of choices, and, therefore, the implications for decision making are more challenging. Even so, this is the point where a preference must be indicated. It is also the time in the decision-making process that can cause the most stress. It requires personal insight, a level of gut instinct, and a leap of faith -- all at the same time. If the decision-maker has put in the adequate amount of effort, then this will allow the individual to select the appropriate option with greater confidence.    


If possible, it is recommended that even after a decision has been made, the person faced with the task take some time to reflect on their choice over the course of several days, asking themselves such questions as, "How do I feel, now that I have opted for this direction," or, "What is my comfort level, now that I have made this choice from the options I listed?" Now, it might be a good idea to let your subconscious do the thinking for you. In other words, you have actively implemented the decision-making process to this point. You have named your problem, you have considered all of the choices you have available, and you have made a reasoned decision based on the information you collected. Now, trust yourself to internalize the decision and listen to your inner voice -– whether or not it is telling you that the choice is the right one for your future, or if there are still some misgivings about the decision.

Step 4 - Put Your Decision into Action and Evaluate

It is not uncommon for people to put off decision-making because they are hesitant to make life-defining choices. Yet this is part of growing up and becoming an adult, and each time a person implements the decision-making process, he or she becomes more adept and competent in the skill, and more confident of their own ability to utilize it for their own benefit. In other words, taking action is the adult part of the decision-making process and the end result of all the pre-planning that goes into it. No matter what decision you are faced with making, you eventually have to act on it. There is an exhilarating feeling that comes with action, particularly if it is based on the proper application of the decision-making process.

If we use the two examples from this section, we find that the parent has decided to stay home and spend the time finding a quality daycare replacement. In this case, it is the father, and he is spending the morning contacting nursery schools in the area and setting up visitations for the following day. He and his wife have agreed to take turns staying home with the children over the next few days until a proper solution can be found. The individual who is trying to decide whether or not to attend college has come to the conclusion that he will need an advanced education if he is going to be able to enter environmental work. He does have limited funds, however, and does not want to live at home. So he has enrolled in a nearby community college, found gainful full-time employment, and is moving into an efficiency apartment near the school.

Conclusions and Review

The decision-makers in both instances are satisfied with their choices, and even more content with their ability to manipulate the decision-making process to their advantage. Over the next few weeks and months, they will review the choices they have made to determine if they were the best options for their situations, and whether or not the plan needs to be "tweaked" in some way. Either way, this application of the decision-making process has advanced their expertise in the four steps that are required to navigate life's choices.

If you are venturing into this online course of study to become more adept, if not expert, in decision making, then it is valuable to remember the four steps of the process. First, state the problem in clear and plain language. Second, research all of the options that are available to address the problem. Third, make the choice from the alternatives considered. Fourth, enact the decision and evaluate to ensure that it is the correct one to meet its stated purpose. Remember, practice makes perfect, and this is especially true of decision-making.

  • Completely Online
  • Self-Paced
  • Printable Lessons
  • Full HD Video  
  • 6 Months to Complete
  • 24/7 Availability
  • Start Anytime
  • PC & Mac Compatible
  • Android & iOS Friendly
  • Accredited CEUs
Universal Class is an IACET Accredited Provider

Course Lessons

Average Lesson Rating:
4.4 / 5 Stars (Average Rating)
"Extraordinarily Helpful"
(1,210 votes)

Lesson 1: Decision-Making Process

The decision-making process is choosing among two or more courses of action for a given situation -- and making decisions is part of everyday life. Additional lesson topics: Definition of Decision Making; Thinking, Fast and Slow; Smart Choices: A Practical Guide to Making Better Decisions 11 Total Points
  • Lesson 1 Video
  • Lesson discussions: Reasons for Taking this Course
  • Complete Assignment: An Introduction
  • Assessment: Exam 1

Lesson 2: Anatomy of a Decision

It is best to spend some time in consideration of what actually comprises the anatomy of a decision. This is a bit more complex than one might suspect. Additional lesson topics: The Anatomy of a Decision; How to Minimize Your Biases When Making Decisions 12 Total Points
  • Lesson 2 Video
  • Complete Assignment: Anatomy of a Decision
  • Assessment: Exam 2

Lesson 3: How to Use Problem Solving Steps and Problem Solving Tools

In this lesson, the focus will be on several aspects of problem solving, beginning with understanding the difference between problem solving and decision making. Additional lesson topics: 5 Steps to Solving the Problems With Your Problem Solving; problem-solving and decision-making; Problem Solving Tools 10 Total Points
  • Lesson 3 Video
  • Assessment: Exam 3

Lesson 4: Distinguish Root Causes From Symptoms to Identify the Right Solution for the Right Problem.

In this lesson, we will separate the parts that make up problem solving to distinguish its root causes from the symptoms. Additional lesson topics: Analyzing Root Causes of Problems: The But Why? Technique; Root Cause Analysis 12 Total Points
  • Lesson 4 Video
  • Complete Assignment: The Steps for Distinguishing the Root Causes
  • Assessment: Exam 4

Lesson 5: Identifying Individual Problem-Solving Styles

Problem solving is key to decision making, and creativity is important, as well. Additional lesson topics: What's Your Problem-Solving Style? 30 Total Points
  • Lesson 5 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 5 Assignment
  • Assessment: Exam 5

Lesson 6: The Creative Process for Making Decisions

In this lesson, we will turn to the creative process and how to apply this to decision making. Additional lesson topics: Understanding Creativity 10 Total Points
  • Lesson 6 Video
  • Assessment: Exam 6

Lesson 7: Barriers to Creativity & Overcoming Them, Part I

Creativity does not just happen at will, although it could happen randomly. It is definitely a skill that can be honed, coaxed, and embellished. Additional lesson topics: Overcoming Barriers to Creativity and Innovation for Organization Growth and Improvement; One of the Biggest Barriers to Creativity and How to Overcome It 10 Total Points
  • Lesson 7 Video
  • Assessment: Exam 7

Lesson 8: Barriers to Creativity & Overcoming Them, Part II

Successful learning is achieved by reviewing concepts and ideas that have been presented in previous lessons, because knowledge is cumulative. Additional lesson topics: Overcoming Barriers to Creativity 10 Total Points
  • Lesson 8 Video
  • Assessment: Exam 8

Lesson 9: Tools to Improve Creativity

Historically the word conjures up visions of hand-held items that are used for mechanical purposes, such as a hammer or a lathe. But in this case, a tool is an apparatus for the manipulation of ideas and intellectual skill sets. Additional lesson topics: Develop Creative Solutions to Business Problems; Several Ways to Boost Your Creativity 15 Total Points
  • Lesson 9 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 9 Assignment
  • Assessment: Exam 9

Lesson 10: The Analytical Process in Decision Making

An analytical process is taking the whole of something and breaking it into pieces for the purpose of some form of action. Additional lesson topics: How Do You Make Decisions – Analytically or Intuitively? 10 Total Points
  • Lesson 10 Video
  • Assessment: Exam 10

Lesson 11: Tools to Improve Analysis

The two analytical tools that will be explained in this lesson are graphic representations: labeled decision trees and influence diagrams. 15 Total Points
  • Lesson 11 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 11 Assignment
  • Assessment: Exam 11

Lesson 12: Irrational Factors and Emotions That Affect Decision Making

It would be beneficial to address the subject of emotional and irrational factors that can impact decision making. Additional lesson topics: How to Remove the Emotion from Decision-Making 12 Total Points
  • Lesson 12 Video
  • Complete Assignment: Emotional Decision Making
  • Assessment: Exam 12

Lesson 13: Fifteen Rules for Decision Making

This lesson will provide a review of information in numbered bullet-form. It is suggested that this particular catalogue be downloaded and saved for future reference. 12 Total Points
  • Lesson 13 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 13 Assignment
  • Assessment: Exam 13

Lesson 14: Implementing the Decision -- Wrap Up

In this final lesson, you will learn the necessary actions for implementing your decision, and associated aptitudes. 82 Total Points
  • Lesson 14 Video
  • Lesson discussions: End of Course Poll; Course Comments; Program Evaluation Follow-up Survey (End of Course)
  • Complete Assignment: Implementing a Decision
  • Assessment: Exam 14
  • Assessment: The Final Exam
Total Course Points

Learning Outcomes

By successfully completing this course, students will be able to:
  • Define the decision-making process.
  • Describe the anatomy of a decision.
  • Summarize how to use problem solving steps and problem solving tools.
  • Identify root causes, symptoms, and solutions for problems.
  • Identify individual problem-solving styles.
  • Determine your barriers to creativity and how to overcome them.
  • Describe the tools to improve creativity.
  • Describe the analytical process in decision making.
  • Identify tools to improve analysis.
  • Recognize irrational factors and emotions that affect decision making.
  • Summarize the fifteen rules for decision making.
  • Identify ways to effectively implement a decision.
  • Demonstrate mastery of lesson content at levels of 70% or higher.

Additional Course Information

Online CEU Certificate
  • Document Your Lifelong Learning Achievements
  • Earn an Official Certificate Documenting Course Hours and CEUs
  • Verify Your Certificate with a Unique Serial Number Online
  • View and Share Your Certificate Online or Download/Print as PDF
  • Display Your Certificate on Your Resume and Promote Your Achievements Using Social Media
Document Your CEUs on Your Resume
Course Title: Decision Making Skills
Course Number: 8900336
Lessons Rating: 4.4 / 5 Stars (1,210 votes)
Languages: English - United States, Canada and other English speaking countries
Availability: This course is online and available in all 50 states including: California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Texas.
Last Updated: October 2022
Course Type: Self-Paced, Online Class
CEU Value: 0.8 IACET CEUs (Continuing Education Units)
CE Accreditation: Universal Class, Inc. has been accredited as an Authorized Provider by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET).
Grading Policy: Earn a final grade of 70% or higher to receive an online/downloadable CEU Certification documenting CEUs earned.
Assessment Method: Lesson assignments and review exams
Instructor: John Chouinard
Syllabus: View Syllabus
Course Fee: $95.00 U.S. dollars

Choose Your Subscription Plan

Course Only
One Course
No Certificate / No CEUs
for 6 months
Billed once
This course only
Includes certificate X
Includes CEUs X
Self-paced Yes
Instructor support Yes
Time to complete 6 months
No. of courses 1 course
Certificate Course
One Course
Certificate & CEUs
for 6 months
Billed once
This course only
Includes certificate Yes
Includes CEUs Yes
Self-paced Yes
Instructor support Yes
Time to complete 6 months
No. of courses 1 course
Platinum Yearly
Certificates & CEUs
per year
Billed once
Includes all 600+ courses
Includes certificate Yes
Includes CEUs Yes
Self-paced Yes
Instructor support Yes
Time to complete 12 Months
No. of courses 600+
Platinum 2 Years
Certificates & CEUs
for 2 years
You save $79.00!
Billed once
Includes all 600+ courses
Includes certificate Yes
Includes CEUs Yes
Self-paced Yes
Instructor support Yes
Time to complete 24 Months
No. of courses 600+

Student Testimonials

  • "This course was extremely useful in assisting me to improve my decision-making skills. I found the instructor to be thoughtful and helpful in his comments at the end of each assignment." -- Geraldine H.
  • "Quiet frankly, I have not done this course before in my life. Decision making course are a very helpful tool to utilize personally or professionally. After studying it online, I think I should be able to implement creative and analytic ideas before finally make a critical decision whether at home or in my workplace. I really enjoyed studying this course online." -- Waisea T.
  • "Really good course, overall I appreciated all content." -- Leanne B.
  • "I LOVED IT. It was extremely in-depth and helpful." -- Cesar P.
  • "Thank you for the great class!" -- Dominick H.

Related Courses