Decision Analysis: Tools


Target Audience:

Decision support staff who want to improve their quantitative skills in decision analysis.

Summary and Objectives:

This course is designed for structured decision making practitioners who want to develop their analytical skills by gaining a greater practical understanding of the most common quantitative methods. It builds on the fundamental principles taught in Introduction to Structured Decision Making (ALC3171), focuses on how to support the "CT" steps of the PrOACT process, and is a companion advanced course to Decision Analysis: Elicitation and Facilitation (ALC3190). Participants will learn about decision trees and utility theory; multicriteria decision analysis, including eliciting objective weights and dealing with conditional dependence; determining the expected value of information; and analysis of portfolio problems. The course has a substantial hands-on component, and every concept is accompanied with guided exercises. Participants will also be called upon to apply some of the course concepts to a decision problem in their job context. This course and the entire structured decision making curriculum at the National Conservation Training Center were developed in partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey.

Upon completion of this course, participants will be able to:

  • Identify several common classes of decision problems.
  • Analyze decision trees.
  • Elicit and apply utility function to reflect decision makers' risk tolerance.
  • Implement multicriteria decision analyses, using the SMART method.
  • Elicit weights on objectives using a variety of alternative methods, including consideration of global vs. local scales for weights.
  • Help a group of experts identify and articulate critical uncertainty.
  • Calculate the expected value of information.
  • Analyze portfolio problems.


Completion of Introduction to Structured Decision Making (ALC3171) and comfort with Microsoft Excel is required prior to enrollment.

Special Requirements:

Background readings will be required in preparation for the course.

Competency Addressed: 

Decision Making - Intermediate, Decision Support - Intermediate, Arithmetic/Mathematical Reasoning - Intermediate, Modeling and Simulation - Intermediate, Risk Management - Basic

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