Residential Curriculum

The residence halls at UMW are not just for relaxing and making friends but also learning.  Residence life staff members facilitate seamless learning through one-on-one conversations, small group discussions, and ongoing programming focused on sound decision making.  Students at UMW are faced with problems and opportunities every day.  This decision making model is designed to help students think critically about the decisions they make on a daily basis and the decision making process as a whole.

 As a result of their residential experience, all UMW students will:

  • be familiar with a six step decision making model
  • know how to use the model when making decisions
  • be aware of personal values and biases that can influence decision making
  • be able to reflect on the decision making process and how it will impact themselves and others


Six Step Decision Making Model

  1. Identify:  Clearly identify the problem or opportunity
  2. Explore:  Explore as many options as possible
  3. Examine:  Examine Options for appropriateness
  4. Select:  Select the best option
  5. Implement:  Implement option
  6. Review:  Review results


Step 1:  Identify

The first step in decision making is to clearly identify the problem or opportunity.

  • Collect information that will help you clearly identify the problem or opportunity
  • Identify individuals who might be able to help you navigate the decision making process
  • Look for causes of the problem or sources of the opportunity
  • List your needs as they relate to this decision
  • Based on the needs identified above, generate a “best case scenario” end result for this decision
  • Create a list of individuals or groups who may be affected by the decision and how

Step 2:  Explore

The second step is exploring options.  It is important in step two to generate as many options as possible, suspending judgment, so that the best possible option may be found. Be creative as you brainstorm. Be aware of your biases and values, at this step every option is equally viable.  You might consider brainstorming with a trusted advisor (parent, friend, professor, residence life staff member, etc.) to ensure that you think of a variety of options.


Step 3:  Examine

The third step requires the decision maker to examine all options for their appropriateness in this particular situation.   The decision maker is trying to find the option that will most likely lead to the “best case scenario” end result created in step one.

  • Analyze each alternative by creating a pros/cons list
  • Compare your alternatives to your “best case scenario” end result
  • Eliminate the options that are not feasible,  those you cannot live with, those that no longer meet your purpose and those that are not in line with your values


Step 4:  Select

The fourth step is selecting the best option after having taken into consideration the pros and cons of each option and the likelihood of the option to result in your “best case scenario” end result.  Choose the option that meets the majority of your needs and the one you consider most appropriate.



Step 5:  Implement

The fifth step is implementing the selected option and ensuring that it works. This step may involve the cooperation of one or more of the individuals or groups identified in step one as possibly being affected by the decision made.  Do not forget to communicate the decision to all individuals involved in or affected by the decision making process.

Step 6:  Review

The final step is reviewing the results to learn if the implemented decision achieved the “best case scenario” end result set forth in the first step of the decision-making process.

  • Gather information and try to learn if the implemented decision met your needs
  • Gather information and try to learn if the implemented decision achieved its goals


Gomez-Mejia, L., Balkin, D., Cardy, R. (2008). Management:people, performance, change. Mc-Graw Hill/Irwin: New York.