Hard decisions

This teaching method challenges students to consider, make choices and set priorities. They assign values to points, money, stars or whatever is a good match for your content, and in doing so gain more insight into taking various interests into consideration, adopting different positions and taking decisions. This teaching method is good to use for ethical and other dilemmas in which different variables play a limiting role. It is extremely suitable for taking stock of and activating prior knowledge, based on the preparatory work that students have to do. At the end, the teaching method can be used to process the content at a deeper level. 

Activity goal
Activate prior knowledge |
Assess |
Exchange knowledge
In class
Hybrid |
Offline |
< 10 minutes |
< 30 minutes
Group size
Small |
Medium |

Tricider, Mentimeter, flipover, sticky notes, markers

Step 1

Determine the elements that students can select, such as features, steps to be taken, options, etc. Also determine the value that must be distributed and the budget. 

Step 2

Present the elements and explain these, if necessary. Also explain the level of everyone’s budget.

Step 3

Give all students thinking time to note down how they would distribute their budget.

Step 4

Ask the students for their answers (e.g., ask various students to speak, put up your hand if you had put ‘...’ at number 1, exchange and discuss the list in pairs and allow time for the students to modify the lists).

Step 5

Depending on the phase of the lecture, you should now go into the elements in more depth or conclude the lecture.

  • Variation 1

    Have pairs of students divide up the budget. 

    Variation 2

    If the elements all have the same value, you can, for example, use online tool Tricider and have each student vote 3 times. This clarifies the priorities of the whole group. 


    You're responsible for the watermanagement of a village. Your budget is 15 euros. Elements in the village cost: 

    • Drinking water – 5
    • Sanitation – 2
    • Economy/Industry – 3
    • Energy – 3
    • Ecology - 5
    • Agriculture – 5
    • Transport – 5
    • Recreation - 2

    Question: how do you distribute the 15 euro to achieve objective x? Why did you opt for this?

    Or: you have a budget of 200 euro and there are 6 elements between 40 and 80 euro over which you can distribute the money. How do you distribute the money across the elements and why did you make these choices?

  • Please consider the tools and materials mentioned here as suggestions. In many cases it’s possible to use alternative tools. Please turn to the Learning & Innovation team of your faculty (EUR or EMC) first to see which online and offline tools are available and how to apply them.



    • Flipover, sticky notes, pens, markers. Note every element on a flipchart. Students walk around and stick post-it notes or write their names next to the elements they select