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Decision-based Learning (DBL)

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Decision-based learning, or DBL, is a way to solve problems using a decision-based approach, and might be the the best approach for your classroom content or for your students.

Decision-based Learning

What is DBL? Decision-based learning or DBL is a method that helps students (1) examine a problem, case study, article, work of art, etc.., (2) consider all the elements that make up that problem in order to (3) make a reasoned, rational or defensible decision.

Consider: After watching the video below, what role do you see DBL potentially playing in your instruction?

DBL: What is DBL?

Student Perspective

What is the DBL experience like from a student perspective using the software? To experience DBL from a student’s perspective click on either the statistics or poetry or both examples below:


DBL: Student Experience - STEM


DBL: Student Experience Humanities

Developing DBL Instruction

What is the overall process of developing DBL instruction? Here is a video that will give you a high-level view of how you can develop DBL instruction for your course.

DBL: Overview

How is DBL instruction delivered?

During Class

You can use the DBL software as an interactive in-class experience with your students. Click below.

DBL: Face to Face Teaching

Before or After Class

You can use DBL as a tool for distance learning or prior/after in-class instruction. Click below.

DBL: Integration

Consider: After watching these videos, what further insights do you have on how DBL could be used in your instruction?

Creating a Decision Model

How do I create my first decision model? Here are two videos that will guide you through a process of creating a “decision path blueprint” that will later be placed in the DBL software.

Purpose of Your Decision Model

Preparation for Creating Your Decision Model

Decision Path Blueprint

DBL: Decision Path Blueprint

Accessing & Using the DBL Software

How do I access the DBL Software, create, and name my decision model? Note, once you sign into the software, your consultant will send a request to to change your status in the software from “learner” to “author”.

Note: If you are not part of the BYU Provo community you can access the software for free by following the instructions in this video Accessing Software Outside BYU Community - YouTube. Contact Ken Plummer at for an author code.

DBL: Sign Up for the DBL Software (Within BYU Community)

Creating a Decision Path

How do I create my first decision path in the DBL software? Following the steps in the video to the left, you will be able to insert your outline into the DBL software.

DBL: Creating a First Decision Path

Completing Your Decision Model

How do I complete my decision model? After you create the first path, you will create a second path using a slightly different second problem, scenario, work of art, etc. Continue creating paths until you have essentially covered the material of interest.

Note, there are two ways to approach model creation: (1) Create a simple three to seven decision point model or (2) create a large model that represents most of your thinking and then simplify it. Do whatever works best for you.

DBL: 2nd Pathway and Beyond

Adding Instruction

How do I add Instruction in the DBL software? Each decision point will have what we call, “a Learning Module.” This learning module will provide three things: (1) A definition for each option, (2) an example of each option, (3) an explanation connecting the example to the definition. There are some optional features you may add as shown in the video.

DBL: Creating & Linking Learning Modules

What are the key elements that will make DBL successful in my course?

Aligned credit bearing assessments – the DBL and parallel non-DBL activities should be driving toward a high-stakes ALIGNED assessment. The students can then learn that when they put in a maximum effort in these activities, they will do very well on an assessment that can affect their grade.
Time or resources to create a DBL activity – short models can be created in a matter of hours. Longer models will require more time. Longer model development can be accelerated by hiring former students to work on problem banks and learning modules.
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Sufficient practice opportunity both in and outside of the decision model. Practice, Practice, Practice. As with any worthwhile endeavor. students will need a certain amount of practice both in and outside of the decision model.
Concise DBL-oriented learning modules. The learning modules need three things: (1) definitions for each option, (2) examples of each option, (3) explanations connecting the examples to definitions. And make them concise!

Get the DBL Software

Decision-Based Learning

DBL logo
Decision-Based Learning (DBL) is a pedagogy that organizes instruction around the decisions an expert makes as they engage with the world in a given domain of learning.

With DBL the instructional focus is, first and foremost, on the interrelated decisions experts make to understand the underlying structure of physical, social, theoretical, artistic, etc. problems or tasks.

All concepts, theories, movements, assumptions, logical frameworks are taught in the context of the decision making process one engages in as they attempt to bring value to the world.

DBL has been implemented on campus in the following disciplines, biology, chemistry, education, geology, math, religion, social science, statistics, student development and others. Several published papers can be made available upon requests.

Finally, BYU has a license to use DBL software at no cost to students or faculty.

You can access the software at

Additional Links