‘To Be or Not to Be?’ – Decisiveness, a BCM210 Project Proposal

There are decisions and choices that we make which we may not give a second thought. Then there are decisions that keep us awake at night, our mind mulling over the countless implications of the single choice. It is this notion of decision-making and a twitter conversation (pictured below) with the subject lecturer, Kate Bowles, about my own iPicture1ndecisiveness that has brought me the idea for my research task for BCM210: What influences the decision-making process of university students?

Starting university means embarking on a new phase in one’s life. Moving from a structured life in high school to a life filled with responsibility and spontaneity, it’s a lot to take on. Getting older means having complete control of the decisions that affect one’s life, whether they be significant or trivial. After being dependant on parents or school teachers to make choices, this newfound freedom may be daunting. Janis and Mann’s Conflict Model of Decision Making (1977) deemed this feeling as “vigilant information processing” in which the individual thinks about potential risks, assures themselves of the potential successes and postulates ideas for potential setbacks in the outcome. That being said, I want to find out what factors students consider or are influenced by when making decisions or, alternatively, to put them off?

Background Information

To get a better understanding of what I will be focusing on in my research about the decision-making process of students, I conducted some preliminary readings for context. One particular reading explored the three main factors that may influence an individual’s ability to make a decision:

  • Decision features – the way in which the options are demonstrated, ordering of choices and the necessity of justification of the decision
  • Situational factors – characteristics of the situation in which the decision is faced (time and pressure), and;
  • Individual differences – characteristics of the decision maker themselves (cognitive ability, decision style, personality, self-esteem, confidence)

It is these 3 factors that will be the prime focus of my research. They will be the basis to finding what decisions are made and why based on the types of decisions, situations and the personality of the students themselves.

Dartmouth decision-making model

This decision-making model from Dartmouth (left) will also be used in order to see if university students do in fact consider all the steps in the process or instead make decisions on impulse. I want to uncover why students may or may not consider and research all their options when making decisions, and the resulting consequences.


Data Collection

The main methods that will be used to collect data will be surveys (most likely to be online in order to reach a greater audience and in faster time) and focus groups. The surveys will ask participants a series of questions about whether they have experienced indecisiveness in a variety of scenarios as well as ranking instances that will most likely influence their ability to make an effective decision. This initial part of data collection will be quantitative. The second part will be on focus groups that will delve into the specifics of a student’s decision making process and collect data on the how and why students make decisions and the influences. Possible scenarios explored could be: moving out, subject/degree selection, joining clubs/teams, assignments and procrastination, peer pressure, etc. This data will be qualitative.

So, why am I doing this?

The reason I am interested in this research task is because I cannot find existing research findings about decision-making that is specifically about university students and young adults. Existing research tends to lack specificity as it doesn’t focus on a particular age group or specific type of individuals that are faced with similar decisions. So, with this research I am hoping to make clear what factors influence the decision making process of students and whether the personality of the individual plays a part.

I look forward to delving into this research task and seeing what makes students tick.



4 thoughts on “‘To Be or Not to Be?’ – Decisiveness, a BCM210 Project Proposal

  1. Dear Tracy,

    I can completely relate to your tweet, I loved the idea behind your proposal and I quite enjoyed reading it. I like the way your blog is set out and how effective the use of your subheadings are. I’m not sure if this will help, however, while reading this I had a flash back to my CST228 class where we were asked to answer a few questions about why we chose the degree we did. Was it based on money? Based on happiness? Based on just doing the easiest degree? It was a very interesting class that got all of us really thinking about what got us to where we are today. The point was that it was very broad and people found it hard to answer when questioned with ‘Why did you choose this?’, instead of ‘Did you choose this because of happiness, money, peer pressure?’ Etc. If that makes a little sense. Its just something to think about while creating your survey, maybe thinking about giving students a few options to choose what influenced their decision making, as this will help them to think quicker and it will eliminate a lot of ‘I don’t know, I’m not sure, I don’t really remember’.
    But great topic and I look forward to reading your findings. Good luck!


  2. Your proposed research has solid grounds and justification behind your purpose for carrying it out. The point you make at the end of your proposal rings true on the subject matter; there is information out there about levels of decisiveness and the decision-making process, however none that are really specific to a particular age group. With the chosen demographic that you are focusing on there are many different factors that you could look in to. As young adults, particularly the post-teen age of university students, our brains are not fully mature and would therefore be impacting the decision-making process differently to adults.
    One particular angle that you could explore further is the fact that young adults are more likely to take risks due to underdevelopment of particular areas in the brain, which will set the group of young adults apart from adults. Gardner & Steinberg (2005) published an article in Developmental Psychology about peer influence and risk taking which could be a starting point for researching this area:
    http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/dev/41/4/625/ .


  3. This is an interesting topic that you have chosen to explore. I believe that there are many factors associated with students decision making processes for example the influence of money, and the other factors that you have mentioned such as personality and self-esteem that can alter one’s characteristics that you can ask about in your surveys and that will link with the decision making model you have presented. Overall I find your topic interesting and


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