Many college students have difficulty with decision making and personal change. In this study, we examine the impact of a fill-in-the-node spatial display that college students complete while considering alternatives and action plans related to dilemmas and behavior change. College students who utilized the cognitive tool reported greater positive expectations for future decision making and personal change than did those in a problem-based writing group and a no treatment group. Implications for academic advisors are discussed.

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Author notes

Crystal Mata Kreitler is an assistant professor of psychology at Angelo State University. She received her PhD at Texas Christian University in experimental psychology with a specialization in cognition in 2011. Her research interests are within topics such as cognitive mapping, ethical decision making, and individual differences with an emphasis on culture and personality. She can be reached at

Donald F. Dansereau is presently a consulting scientist with the Institute of Behavioral Research (IBR). He received his PhD from Carnegie Mellon and was on the faculty at Texas Christian University from 1968 to 2011, where he was a professor of psychology and also served as Associate Director for Cognitive Interventions in the IBR. Dr. Dansereau's research focused on cognitive approaches for improving education, drug abuse prevention and treatment, and parenting.

Timothy M. Barth is a professor of psychology and Department Chair at Texas Christian University (TCU). He received his PhD at the University of Texas at Austin. He has been a faculty member at TCU since 1990. His research focuses on decision making and problem solving.

Gregory T. Repasky is a graduate student in psychology at Texas Christian University (TCU). He received his BS at TCU in 2010. He expects to obtain his MS degree in experimental psychology in 2012. His research interests are within ethical perceptions, decision making, creativity, and self-control.

James Miller is a PhD student in the Clinical Health Psychology Program at the University of North Texas. He received his MS degree at the University of North Texas. He expects to obtain his PhD in 2014. His research interests focus on self-management programs and treatment outcomes among chronically ill and addiction populations.

This manuscript is based, in part, on Crystal Kreitler's master's thesis. We thank all the students who volunteered to participate and share their lives with us.