Drawing a decision tree to support decision making

About decision trees

Decision trees provide a vehicle for visually analyzing turfgrass management problems. Once possible options that might be used to address a turfgrass management problem are laid out, it is easy to see different combinations of tasks or paths and from this select a solution strategy. Take a look at the picture below. This is a problem that I was confronted with recently.

example decision tree

We finally got some snow here in the Northeast United States and I needed to decide how I was going to get out of the house to go to my office, the stores, etc. I could do it myself (the top path) or pay someone to do this for me. Laying out all of the possibilities show me that either solution has its expenses in money, time (or my back!), and depend on many parameters: the length of my driveway, the amount of snow, and available cash. While this might be a simplistic situation, even here, the decision I make is better informed when all of the possibilities are laid out.

Using Miscrosoft Word's drawing tools

We will use just Microsoft Word drawing tools in this course to construct a decision tree for each case. These tools were used in the previous section, so you should already be familiar with them. A review follows:


NOTE: If you are not familiar with how to use Microsoft Word you might find it helpful to print out this page and follow along below as you are working. If your computer has enough memory to run both applications simultaneously, and it won't confuse you to flip between your browser and Word, have both applications open at the same time.

PC users, look for the 'minimize bars' at the bottom of your monitor - clicking on these will let you flip back and forth between applications. Mac users can use the Application menu icon which is located in the upper right hand corner of your monitor screen. This menu will allow you to switch from one application program to another when more than one program is open.

The tools you will need to know:

FIRST, review how to access the HELP. Look for the cursor with the large question mark on it on the right side of the toolbar at the top of your screen. This is your canonical source for how the tools work. What follows is the "short version," what you need to know without all the extras. If you get stuck here, refer to the HELP in Microsoft Word.

Access the drawing tools by clicking on the icon for Drawing Tools in the toolbar at the top of your screen. It looks like this in the red circle below:

This will display a second toolbar at the bottom of your screen containing the Drawing Tool icons. You will be using the tools described below:

Text Box Tool

Look for this icon in the toolbar located at the bottom of your screen. Click on it. When you then bring your cursor onto a Word page your cursor becomes a crosshair. When your cursor is located where you want to locate a new text box, click down and drag a square the size of the box you think you will need. When your finger comes up off of the mouse, the text box has been drawn and a text cursor is in place in the upper left part of the box. Type something and your words appear in the box.

TRY IT!

Open a new Word page; click the Drawing Tool icon in the toolbar at the top of your screen. Look for the Text Box icon in the toolbar at the bottom of the page. Move the cursor onto the Word page and click and drag a text box. Fill in some text. Click the Text box icon again and create another.

Line Style Tool

This icon is also located in the toolbar at the bottom of your screen. You will be using this tool in conjunction with the Line Tool itself (below). First, use this tool to decide what kind of line you would like to draw, and then use the Line Tool to draw it. We will be using lines with arrowheads at the end (in the red circle).

All you need to do is click down on the Line Style Tool icon. When your mouse button is in the down position the Line Style Box on the left is displayed. With your cursor still down so that the Line Style Box remains displayed, move your cursor until the line style that you wish to draw with is highlighted and then release the mouse button. Your next line will be drawn in this style.

Line Tool

Once you have selected a line style, move your cursor onto the Word page where you want the line to appear. Use the crosshairs to pick the precise starting place for the line. Click down on the mouse, and, with the mouse down, drag in the direction that you want the line to appear. Release the mouse when you have reached the end of where you want the line to be drawn.

TRY IT!

In the Word page you have open, click the Drawing Tool icon in the toolbar at the top of your screen. Locate the Line Style Tool icon in the toolbar at the bottom of the page. Drag your cursor to highlight the style of line that you would like to draw. Move your cursor onto the Word page and Click and drag to insert a line connecting two of the text boxes that your created above. Master this tool.

Do you have the arrow going in the correct direction? If you want to make corrections or move things around use the Selection Drawing Objects Tool (see below):

Selection Drawing Objects Tool



drawing object selected

The Selection Drawing Objects Tool is used to move or resize objects on your Word page. Look for the 'white cursor' icon in the toolbar at the bottom of your screen. With this icon you can select any object you have drawn by clicking it. The objects that you select are now identified with shading and handles (handles are the small black squares that outline the shape of the object). Use the point of the new cursor with the small crosshairs within the selected object (in red circle, left) to:

  • move the entire object - click and drag the object to its new position.
  • resize the object - click and drag the handle to resize the object in the direction you want--
    • #1 left in red will resize the textbox in a larger or smaller direction using both the bottom and sides of the object, and
    • #2 will resize the textbox in a wider or thinner direction by using only one side of the object.

TRY IT!

In the Word page you have open, click the Drawing Tool icon in the toolbar at the top of your screen. Locate the Selection Drawing Objects Tool icon in the toolbar at the bottom of the page. Move your cursor onto the Word page and Click on any of the textboxes or arrows that you created above. Use your cursor to resize the objects you have drawn or move them on the page. Work with your page until it looks the way you want.

Do you have the arrow going in the correct direction? If you want to make corrections or move things around, use the Selection Drawing Objects Tool (see below).

Call Out Tool

The Call Out Tool will be used to identify relationships that exist between different factors. The Call Out Tool icon, located in the toolbar at the bottom of your screen, looks like a comic strip caption bubble (left, in red circle). Clicking on this icon will give you a crosshairs to identify the starting place for the call out. This will usually be somewhere along the midpoint of the arrow that connects two factors. Click down on the mouse. With the mouse down, drag in the direction where there is room on your page for some explanatory text. When you release the mouse, the new text box will appear attached to the line you have drawn. Type in the text that explains the relationship between factors.

TRY IT!

In the Word page you have open, click the Drawing Tool icon in the toolbar at the top of your screen. Look for the Call Out Tool icon in the toolbar at the bottom of the page. Move your cursor onto the Word page. Use the crosshairs to pick the starting place for the call out. Click down on the mouse, and, with the mouse down, drag in the direction that you want the line to appear. When you release the mouse a new text box will appear attached to the line you have drawn. Type your text in the new text box.

Become comfortable with this tool.


 


Drawing a decision tree to support decision making