Character Education Lessons: Rational Decision-Making Process

Decision-Making - Character Education

Academic Domain: Rational Decision-Making Process

Students demonstrate the ability to apply various decision-making strategies and employ a rational process that avoids rationalizations and elevates logic over emotions and facts over feelings including:  

  1. Identifying long-term and short-term objectives; 
  2. Devising alternative courses of action to achieve the objectives; 
  3. Foreseeing potential consequences to each person or group effected by the decision (i.e., stakeholder); 
  4. Choosing the course of action most likely to produce the optimum (i.e., best possible) result; and
  5. Monitoring the effectiveness of the decision and making adjustments necessary to achieve the objectives.

Examples of tests for making decisions:

  1. Role Model Test – do what you think a person you admire for ethics and wisdom would do. (e.g., Mother Teresa, your grandmother);
  2. Publicity Rule – only do what you would do if you knew your decision would be known by everyone (e.g., reported on the 5 o’clock news or on Facebook);
  3. Golden Rule test: Would I want people to do this to me?
  4. The what‐if‐everybody‐did‐this test: Would I like it if everyone else did this?
  5. Positive Outcome Test (consequentialism) – when ethical values conflict (e.g., where the truth would be unkind) choose the best possible result by determining which option is most likely to produce the most long-term good and do the least harm for the most people;

Recognizing important decisions:

    1. Is there a possible danger of physical harm to you or anyone else?
    2. Could you or someone else suffer serious emotional pain?
    3. Could the decision hurt your reputation?
    4. Could the decision impede achieving an important goal?
    5. Could you or someone else suffer significant monetary or property loss?

Key Belief:

I will be a better student if I act on the following belief:

  • I will avoid resorting to rationalizing the decisions I make. 


  • Understand the difference between a rationalization and a rational decision. 
  • Prepare scenarios that allow you to determine a course of action that is based on rational decision-making. 
  • Use literary works or historical documents to discuss if the choices made were rational or rationalizations. 

Quotation Posters