Please note that the specifics of this Course Syllabus are subject to change. Instructors will notify students of any changes and students will be responsible for abiding by them. Even if you print this syllabus, please check the online version often.
SRA 231: Decision Theory and Analysis (3 credits) - Provides an overview of decision theoretical and analytical concepts and tools in the security risk analysis field.
Decision Theory and Analysis is designed for students to build an understanding of how to improve the judgment and decision-making of individuals, groups and organizations. Behavioral and normative decision theories provide the theoretical core for the course. These theories draw on insights from a diverse set of disciplines, including cognitive and social psychology as well as economics, statistics, and philosophy.
This course will foster understanding of: (a) the cognitive, emotional, social and institutional factors that influence judgment and choice, (b) normative (economic) models of rational choice, and (c) how judgment and decision-making can be predicted and/or improved through prescriptive aids and models.
Applications of these theories and methods to real-life venues will be used to engage and focus the students. When appropriate, real situations and cases are used to bring concepts and scenarios alive.
Overall, the course emphasizes basic skills and concepts that enhance an individual’s ability to understand why individuals, groups, and organizations behave the way they do, to understand how these groups formulate the issues and problems individuals confront, as well as to choose rationally among competing courses of action.
- SRA 211
- STAT 200
The broad objective of the course is to support overall curricular objectives of the Security and Risk Analysis program. By doing so, the course helps to prepare future leaders to address the many security and risk challenges that face our nation and the world. The course also supports the core values of the College of IST: respect for technology, cultures, and the law.
The individual goals of SRA 231 are summarized by the following learning objectives:
- Decision Theory: Students will be able to define, recognize, and put into practice the fundamentals of decision theory in everyday life as well as in the study and application of security and risk decisions.
- The Decision Environment: Students will be able to derive, analyze, and apply the elements that define the decision environment at the individual, group, and organizational level, including the characteristics, and strategies of decision-making at each level.
- The Nexus of Decision Theory and Decision Support (Analysis): Students will be able to apply the principles of critical thinking, recognize the effects of cognition and emotion on decision-making, and understand the role of analytic judgment on the decision support/analytic process.
- Decision Support Methods & Applications: Students will be able to make use of the decision-support processes and products/tools introduced during the course, and apply their use to problems and activities.
- Bridging Theory & Practice: Students will apply their knowledge and skills in designated practical-application decision exercises and analytic decision problems (individual and group) in order to reinforce the tenets of Decision Theory and Analysis.
- Required Text: Peterson, M. (2017). An Introduction to Decision Theory (Cambridge Introductions to Philosophy) (2nd ed.). Cambridge University Press. ISBN: 978-1316606209
- Required Reading: Psychology of Intelligence Analysis - Richards J. Heuer, Center for the Study of Intelligene, CIA 1999. ISBN 978-1929667000
- Required Reading: Decision Theory - A Brief Introduction - Sven Ove Hansson, Royal Institute of Technology, 1994
- Required Reading: Smart Choices: A Practical Guide to Making Better Decisions - John S. Hammond, Ralph L. Keeney, Howard Raiffa, Crown Business, 2002. ISBN 978-0767908863
Assignments & Grading
SRA 231 requires students to demonstrate course material proficiency through the submission of multiple group and individual assignments throughout the semester. Please reference the Schedule section of this Syllabus for a more in-depth look at due dates, point distributions, etc.
Unless otherwise noted, the submission requirement for assignments is on the due date. Submission details will be provided with each assignment. See also Course Policies and Expectations for related information (including late submissions).
|Grading Category||Percentage of Final Grade|
Group work is a mandatory aspect of SRA 231. Students will be randomly assigned to groups during the semester and will be required to work on several deliverables as a group. Group configurations will be announced prior to lessons that require group work. For more information on what work is expected in these deliverables, please reference the Schedule section below.
All non-group assignments (quizzes, homework, discussions, etc.) must be completed individually.
Quizzes and Make-up Quizzes
Each multiple choice/short answer quiz builds on previous course material, but is technically not "comprehensive." Unless stated otherwise, quizzes are open book and open notes.
Students typically have one-week to complete assignments, so make-up quizzes are NOT available. If an approved university excuse interferes with a student submission, a comprehensive make-up quiz will be offered finals week as an alternative. In general, the earlier a student notifies the instructor the more options are available.
Course Grading Scale
The following are minimum cutoffs for each grade:
- 93.00% = A
- 90.00% = A-
- 87.00% = B+
- 83.00% = B
- 80.00% = B-
- 77.00% = C+
- 70.00% = C
- 60.00% = D
- less than 60.00% = F
The above cutoffs are never raised; in rare circumstances, the instructor may elect to slightly lower some cutoffs at the end of the semester when assigning grades. Any adjustment would be made uniformly to all students.
Since our policy is uniform consideration, we do not respond to individual requests for special consideration.
Course Policies and Expectations
- Instructor Expectations - "Community" - Active participation and involvement are critical to a student’s success in SRA 231. Students are required to participate and, where possible, "improve learning in this class" for both themselves and peers. The posts in the Question Cafe forum should be considered as required daily reading. As such, students are required to "subscribe" to the Question Cafe forum.
- Assignment Due Dates - All assignments are due at 11:59 PM (ET) by the last day of the week (Sunday) unless otherwise noted. In the event that you submit any assignment beyond the 11:59PM ET due date, you will be subject to our Late Assignment Policy (outlined below). Please note that we do NOT accept group or individual assignments sent to instructors via email or as an email attachments.
- Late Assignment Policy - Students are responsible for completing their own work and submitting their deliverables as directed on the assignment. Since assignments are noted in the syllabus and are given well in advance, students are encouraged to complete assignments well before the due date.
- All assignments must be completed on time to be eligible for full-credit.
- Students will not be penalized for submitting work earlier than the assigned deadline.
- Late assignments will result in an automatic 20% point reduction. Because course material and due dates are available to students well in advance, late submissions will only be accepted for a period of one week following the assigned due date. Any assignments received 1 WEEK after the assigned due date will not be accepted and will not be eligible for credit.
- Extra Credit Policy - SRA 231 is structured so that lessons, assignments, and other features of the course are available well in advance of all due dates. Because students have ample time to complete this required work, there is no opportunity for extra credit in this course.
- Technical Difficulties - To minimize technical difficulties submitting assignments, students are required to submit early and verify submission success. Please complete all practice assignments and notify instructors if you need assistance.
Academic Integrity - The Penn State World Campus is committed to maintaining Penn State's policy on Academic Integrity in all courses it offers. The World Campus, the College of IST, each course instructor, and exam proctor take academic integrity matters seriously. For more information, please review these policies and procedures regarding Academic Integrity.
- "May no act of ours bring shame," from the Penn State Alma Mater by Fred Lewis Pattee
- It is the University (1), IST College (2) and course policy to enforce academic integrity in this course. In addition, students should understand that the value of the PSU diploma is related to the quality of the learning. The value of a diploma from a school that does not actively maintain integrity would be low, hurting all students.
- The use of work by other students is specifically prohibited and subject to the University's Academic Integrity provisions (see "Academic Integrity" under school policies below). We specifically ask that you do not share files or answers. Note that projects are creative works that must be "materially unique" from other students. In addition to unique content, we also expect a unique presentation "look and feel" (i.e. the visual appearance comprised of a consistent color scheme, layout, typography, design treatments and graphic elements working in harmony).
- Turnitin: When directed, students in our course are required to register with, and submit files of written papers to, this web-based plagiarism detection and prevention system.
- Severe Penalties: The first academic integrity violation will result in a point reduction equal to 1-1/2 times the maximum original point value of the assignment involved, increasing to 2 times on the second violation. A third violation will result in failing the course. Violations may be on the same or different assignments. Courses failed for academic violations may be noted on the student transcript. When in doubt meet with instructors prior to submission.
- Grade Distribution
- In accordance with the University policy AD11 on Confidentiality Of Student Records grades or other student records will never be provided by telephone, email, or to third parties. If you have difficulty in accessing your grades, or if you feel a recorded grade may be in error, you should contact the instructor.
- Student grades are posted in Canvas, and students are responsible for monitoring grades.
- Problem Resolution Time Limits: Written documentation of any problem related to score assignment must be sent via Canvas Inbox within one-week from the date scores were first reported available to students in Canvas Announcements.
- Caution: Until the semester ends, the grade book "ignores" zero-grade assignments; this may result in students being presented an artificially high grade.
Penn State and the College of Information Sciences and Technology are committed to maintaining Penn State's policy on Academic Integrity in this and all other courses. We take academic integrity matters seriously and expect you to become a partner to the University/College standards of academic excellence.
For more information, please review these policies and procedures:
While utilizing additional sources outside of this class is encouraged for gaining a better understanding of course concepts, seeking explicit answers for graded assignments from outside sources (e.g. Course Hero, Chegg, tutoring services like tutor.com, etc.) is considered CHEATING and will not be tolerated. Sanctions range from failure of the assignment or course to dismissal from the University. Additionally, sharing course content without permission is a violation of copyright and may result in university sanctions and/or legal ramifications. Contact your instructor with questions related to this topic.
Review current information regarding various Penn State policies (such as copyright, counseling, psychological services, disability and military accommodations, discrimination, harassment, emergencies, trade names, etc.) on the University Policies page.
Penn State takes great pride to foster a diverse and inclusive environment for students, faculty, and staff. Acts of intolerance, discrimination, or harassment due to age, ancestry, color, disability, gender, gender identity, national origin, race, religious belief, sexual orientation, or veteran status are not tolerated and can be reported through Educational Equity via the Report Bias webpage (http://equity.psu.edu/reportbias/).
Find extensive information and links to many Penn State and IST resources (including the Penn State libraries, video conferencing tools, technology and software, writing and research help, and much more) on the Resources page.
Standard World Campus computer technical specifications are assumed for this course. Please test your computer for requirements. In addition, a webcam and a headset with a microphone are REQUIRED for the course. These may be used for virtual meetings, virtual office hours, interactions with classmates and your instructor, and group presentations - which are all conducted with virtual meeting tools. No special software is required.
The following schedule outlines the topics covered in this course, along with the associated time frames, readings, activities, and assignments. All due dates reflect Eastern Time (ET). Specifying the time zone ensures that all students have the same deadlines, regardless of where they live.
The syllabus page shows a table-oriented view of the course schedule, and the basics of course grading. You can add any other comments, notes, or thoughts you have about the course structure, course policies or anything else.
To add some comments, click the "Edit" link at the top.