Data-Driven Decision Making–High School Math Elective

Last year, the Athena High School Math Department introduced a new and exciting elective titled “Data-Driven Decision Making.”  This elective, now in its second year, combines statistics and practical application of real life decisions.  The course description reads:

“Students will study mathematical topics associated with decision making through the collection and interpretation of relevant data.  This course is designed to improve personal and professional decisions by presenting a practical framework that can be used to make better and smarter choices.  Students will have the opportunity to perform a decision making analysis incorporating several statistical methods and techniques.”

The student objectives are:  to improve their personal and professional decision making, learn to analyze data and use methods of statistical inference, prepare for college level mathematics, and expand their experience with technology and giving presentations.  The “textbook” for the course is Hammond, Keeney, and Raiffa’s (1999) Smart choices: A practical guide to making better decisions.  The course uses the decision framework presented in this book, along with some additions from Mr. Ingerick and I.  Some sample student project problem statements include the following:

  • What should I do after high school?
  • What is the best way to save money for college?
  • I need transportation for work.
  • Where should I live next year?

The decision making framework used for this class is shown below.  I believe that this is one of the best high school electives that you could offer to students.  Please leave any comments below.


Posted on May 29, 2012, in Athena High Best Practices and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. This sounds like a great class! I’m a math teacher at a small alternative high school and I’m interested in developing a class similar to this at my school. Do your students all have varying levels of math? Is this their second math class of the day or their only math class? Thanks!

    • This class would be perfect for an alternative setting as much of it is real world situations and hands on activities. These students have varying levels of math experience (from basic to AP). For some students it is a second math class while for others it is their only math course. Please e-mail me at and I would be happy to talk to you more or send materials. Thanks for your comments!

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