In order to design online teaching and learning activities that promote effective decision-making skills under conditions of uncertainty, we adopt key findings from the fields of cognitive psychology and public management and employ strategies from the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. The learning activities outlined in this article – readings, films, writing and research assignments, and interactive exercises – promote the ability to detect, recognize, and interpret risk while developing collaborative strategies for action to reduce that risk. Students develop those skills in three stages – first, developing individual skills, second integrating those skills, and finally by demonstrating all skills in the absence of an instructor’s guidance. We do not suggest that these learning activities replicate the precise conditions of stress and uncertainty experienced in the field. Rather, they lay a foundation for education and training that is rooted in both theory and practice, contributing a proof of concept for homeland security and emergency management curricula. We analyze two semesters of qualitative student evaluations and report that positive student response suggests the potential effectiveness of our strategy.


Clayton Wukich

Clayton Wukich is an Assistant Professor and the MPA Director in the Department of Political Science at Sam Houston State University. He received his PhD in Public and International Affairs from the University of Pittsburgh in 2011. His research interests include intergovernmental relations and collaborative governance, particularly within the policy domain of emergency management.

Suzanne L. Frew

Suzanne L. Frew (The Frew Group) is an independent consultant in strategic communications, emergency management, and community resilience. She brings over 20 years of experience in planning, field operations, capacity building, and training and exercise. She has supported public and private sector and nongovernmental agency clients throughout the mainland U.S. and island jurisdictions, Canada, Asia Pacific, and Southeast Asia. She is passionate about implementing cross-cultural, innovative solutions for inclusive community outreach and multi-sector engagement for risk reduction.

Alan Steinberg

Alan Steinberg earned his PhD from the University of Houston in 2013. He is the Associate Director of the Center for Civic Leadership at Rice University. His current research explores how social media tools allow for new and enhanced avenues for civic participation and leadership.

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Teaching Key Elements of Decision Making Online for Homeland Security and Emergency Management

Suggested Citation

Wukich, C., Frew, S. L. & Steinberg A. (2016). Teaching key elements of decision making online for homeland security and emergency management. Journal of Homeland Security Education, 5, 8-24, https://jsire.org/teaching-key-elements-of-decision-making-online-for-homeland-security-and-emergency-management