Decision-Making Through the PACED Model

Educator incorporates a rational decision-making model into instruction.
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About this Micro-credential

Apply for a micro-credential before December 22nd, 2017 for a $75 Amazon gift card!*

*Offer valid until 12/22/2017. To receive a gift card, participant must complete all portions of the micro-credential application including the optional survey. Gift cards will be awarded in the form of Amazon eGift Cards emailed to the account specified by the participant. Each participant can receive maximum one gift card. GFLEC reserves the right to withdraw this offer at any time.

Key Method

The educator understands the need for rational financial decision-making and successfully models and guides students through the PACED decision-making process.

Method Components

Steps of the PACED activity

  • Problem: State the problem that must be solved. This can be a teacher-created or student-generated problem. One possible example for a personal finance course could be how a student wants to use $500 they earned from a summer job.
  • Alternatives: Students develop and list several solutions for the chosen problem. The alternatives may be chosen by the students individually or can be suggested and agreed upon by the members of the class as a whole.
  • Criteria: Students select the criteria on which the alternatives should be evaluated. This is where the students decide which values are important to them to ensure that their evaluation produces a meaningful decision.
  • Evaluate: Students evaluate how well each alternative meets the chosen criteria. The ratings may be a simple plus or minus, or a numeric system (1-5) may also be used.
  • Decision: Students make a decision based on the evaluations.

Suggested Implementation:

  1. Begin the lesson by building a list of all the financial decisions the students make in the present and will face in the next few years. Then, discuss the benefits of rational decision-making.
  2. Introduce the PACED decision-making process by completing the process for a personal finance decision in front of the class. Be sure to “think-aloud” while modeling (Rosenshine, 2012, p. 15).
  3. As a class, choose a personal finance decision and prompt students to complete their own PACED worksheet (See the resources section).
  4. When students are finished, discuss the alternatives they chose and the criteria on which they evaluated the alternatives.
  5. Close out the lesson with a discussion or written response that asks students to think about the benefits of making personal finance decisions with this framework.

Research & Resources

Supporting Research

Despite their young age, American teenagers are active players in the economy and have significant purchasing power (“Purchasing Power of Teens”). Teens also face numerous important financial decisions as they progress through high school and graduate, such as which career they will pursue, where they will live, and choices about student debt.

Researchers have defined two levels of decision-making. System 1 decision-making is “fast, automatic, effortless, implicit, and emotional,” while System 2 refers to “reasoning that is slower, conscious, effortful, explicit, and logical” (Milkman, Chug & Bazerman, 2008, p. 3). System 1 decision-making can lead to poor financial choices, so a rational approach to decision-making should be utilized in personal finance classrooms (Krumboltz et al., 1986). The PACED framework is useful for students because it breaks the decision-making process into distinct steps, and research shows that it is best to present information to students in small steps and to assist them before moving on to the next step (Rosenshine, 2012). The PACED process also promotes and encourages student choice throughout, and research shows that when students have some choice in their instruction they perceive the activities to be more important and are more engaged (Goodwin, 2010).

  • Krumboltz, John D., et al. “Teaching A Rational Approach to Career Decision Making: Who Benefits Most?” Journal of Vocational Behavior 29.1 (1986): 1-6. Research Gate. Web. 10 Apr. 2016.
  • Goodwin, Bryan. “Research Says...Choice Is a Matter of Degree.” Educational Leadership 68.1 (2010): 80-81. ASCD. Web. 23 Apr. 2016.


Lesson Plans

Submission Requirements

Submission Guidelines & Evaluation Criteria

The items in this following section detail what must be submitted for evaluation. To earn the micro-credential, you must receive a passing evaluation for Parts 1,3, and 4, and a “Yes” for both artifacts submitted for Part 2.

Part 1. Overview Questions

(200-word limit):

  • How did you connect personal finance decision-making to prior lessons in your class to build students’ background knowledge and activate prior knowledge?

Part 2. Work Examples/Artifacts

Submit one video that demonstrates your competence with modeling the PACED process with your class.

Also, submit two samples of student work that shows student engagement with the PACED process.

Part 3. Student Reflection

Provide two written reflections from students who participated in activity used for submission of Part 2. Use the following question as guidance (200-word limit):

  • How does the PACED process compare and contrast with the way you usually make decisions?

Part 4. Teacher Reflection

Provide a reflection on what you learned, using the following question as guidance (300-word limit):

  • How can the PACED model help students make better financial decisions?

Part 5. Survey (Optional)

Please answer a brief survey about your experience teaching personal finance. Your responses will:

  • help us understand barriers personal finance teachers face;
  • and help us improve the resources being offered to personal finance educators

We appreciate your help.

Except where otherwise noted, this work is licensed under:
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)


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