University of Bayreuth, Press release No. 112/2023 - 4 August 2023
“KLUG entscheiden!” research project: empowering high school students' study and career choices
Making the right decisions in your own life is something that can be learned. The project "KLUG entscheiden!" at the University of Bayreuth shows: Young people who receive systematic training in decision-making skills shortly before leaving school consider their abilities and long-term interests far more thoroughly when choosing a course of study or vocational training than if they spontaneously follow their own wishes or simply trust the recommendations of others. In the coming weeks, the regional cooperation with selected schools that has been successfully established in the project will be further intensified and expanded..
The coordinator of "KLUG entscheiden!" is Prof. Dr. Johannes Siebert, who set up the project at the University of Bayreuth and now teaches and researches at the MCI Management Center Innsbruck. Dr. Manuel Friedrich, head of the didactics of economics at the University of Bayreuth, is responsible for the didactics. The project is financially supported by the Adalbert Raps Foundation, the Rainer Markgraf Foundation, and the Upper Franconia Foundation and will be continued until the end of 2024 in cooperation with the University of Bayreuth.
Decision-making training for students
Many years of research on the theory and practice of decision-making form the basis for sound advice to teachers as well as for the design and implementation of workshops with students. A study coordinated by Siebert and published in "Decision Sciences - Journal of Innovative Education" proves the effectiveness of two-day workshops in which students from upper secondary level vocational schools in the region participated.
The workshops focused on the question, "What educational path will I take after school?" Students were guided to independently apply proven methods of good decision-making. "Surveys of the students following the workshops clearly showed that proactive cognitive skills needed to carefully choose a course of studies or vocational training became significantly stronger as a result of the training. The students' willingness to visualize their own professional and private objectives and to take their lives into their own hands with confidence had increased considerably," reports Siebert.
An app that supports these processes is now available free of charge to all students who want to consciously and thoughtfully plan their future educational path.
Educational and socio-political benefits
"KLUG entscheiden!" is designed as an application-oriented research project that aims to provide direct benefits for students. The students also learn how to apply the skills they are taught to their own life situations and the educational decisions they have to make. This enables them to make optimum use of the study and career guidance services offered by schools, Germany’s employment agency, the "Schools & Business" cooperation, the chambers of trade and commerce, and the universities. Currently, several schools are being established in Upper Franconia, where "KLUG entscheiden!" is permanently anchored and coordinated with other career orientation measures.
"The decision-making competence gained by pupils reduces dropout rates in studies and training, and it increases the overall quality of life and self-efficacy of young people in Bavaria. With KLUG entscheiden!, Bavaria can position itself throughout Germany as a model for an innovative approach to career guidance based on decision-making theory. In the long term, decision-making competence also promotes democracy, as young people are less susceptible to populism if they have practiced reflective decision-making behaviour," says project leader Prof. Dr. Johannes Siebert.
"The Bayreuth project KLUG entscheiden! provides an excellent framework for structured dialogue with students about their future educational paths. It relies on personal discussions at eye level, which also involve teachers, parents and friends, and thus strengthens confidence in the benefits and future success of well-structured decision-making," says Prof. Dr. Susanne Lin-Klitzing, Federal President of the German Philologists' Association.
A global alliance for good decision-making
In light of the vast diversity of educational paths, careers, and lifestyles, the task of guiding young people in their decision-making is also coming into focus worldwide. With the support of leading scientists in the fields of decision theory, cognitive psychology, and education, the Alliance for Decision Education was founded. Prof. Siebert is also a member of the advisory council of this international NGO, which sees itself as a driving force behind innovative projects such as KLUG entscheiden! Adriana Massara, Interim Executive Director of the Alliance, says of the Bayreuth study, which reports on successes with Upper Franconian schools: "This study is an important element in demonstrating the impact Decision Education can have on adolescents. We believe that empowering young people with better decision-making skills will positively influence them throughout their lives – through college, careers, relationships, families, communities, and beyond."
Homepage of the “KLUG entscheiden!” project:
Video on "KLUG entscheiden!" (in German):
Homepage of the Alliance for Decision Education
Decision navigator for students:
https://klugnavi.app/de/code - Zugangstoken: KLUGentscheiden_Emma
Johannes Ulrich Siebert, Maxi Becker, Nadine Oeser (2023). Making a good career choice: A decision‐analytical intervention to enhance proactive decision‐making and career choice self‐efficacy in high school students. Decision Sciences - Journal of Innovative Education, 21(1), 10-25. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/dsji.12280