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A Computer System Simulation of Student Performance in the Elementary Classroom
Author(s): Nancy Roberts Subject: Research
  Nancy Roberts did a study of student performance during her doctoral work in 1973. It was published in the September 1974 issue of Simulation & Gaming, vol.5: pp 265-290, and is still available online at the Simulation & Gaming journal site.
  Link to the file:
America Disrupted: Dynamics of the Technical Capability Crisis
Author(s): Dan Sturtevant Subject: Research
  The percentage of students earning Bachelors degrees in engineering is almost half what it was in 1985. This decline has occurred despite the fact that wages for engineering graduates are higher than those of any other degree-type. Unemployment for scientists and engineers has just hit a record low. What is being studied in this thesis is an apparent contradiction: people decreasingly willing to go into a field in which wages are extremely strong.
Assessing the Effectiveness of Systems Thinking in the Classroom
Author(s): Megan Hopper, & Krystyna A. Stave Subject: Research
  This paper presents an analysis of systems thinking interventions in educational settings. Although these interventions have been implemented in K-12 classrooms since the mid 1980s, there is still no clear definition of systems thinking or identification of the best method to test the effectiveness of interventions or methods for teaching systems thinking The goal of this paper is to answer the question: how can we best assess the effectiveness of systems thinking interventions in education? This question begs three sub questions: (1) what is systems thinking, (2) what systems thinking interventions are being used in education, and (3) how have the effect of interventions been measured? The purpose of answering these questions was to propose methods for assessing systems thinking interventions. The analysis of systems thinking interventions in the classroom yielded an initial set of guidelines for measuring and raising a person’s level of systems thinking.
Assessing the Effectiveness of Systems-Oriented Instruction for Preparing Students to Understand Complexity
Author(s): Richard Randall Plate Subject: Research
  Dissertation for Ph.D. This research presents systems-oriented instruction as a promising pedagogical tool for preparing students to understand complex social and ecological systems. A methodology is presented using cognitive mapping to evaluate how systems-oriented instruction affects the way students learn about complex systems.
Building Slightly More Complex Models: Calculators vs. STELLA
Author(s): Diana M. Fisher Subject: Research
  If students are to develop the potential to effectively manage ubiquitous complex systems, it is becoming increasing important to develop systems thinking concepts and model building skills formally at the pre-college level. This paper describes an experiment conducted in two secondary school classrooms in the Pacific northwestern United States to determine the importance of access to a relatively new modeling tool for students to enable them to successfully create and analyze simple models that are slight extensions of traditional models, as compared with using graphing calculators to build and analyze the same extended model scenarios.
Can people learn behaviours of stock and flow using their ability to calculate running total? An experimental study
Author(s): Tony Phuah Subject: Research
  Tony Phuah's Masters Thesis at the University of Bergen. Stock and flow is the basis of dynamics. Understanding of stock and flow is crucial in comprehending and managing problems such as global warming and national debt. Yet previous experimental studies discovered that people performed poorly in simple stock-flow tasks. However, many do have notion of accumulation in terms of calculating running total. Here a pre-test-treatment-post-test experiment was designed to test the hypothesis that people's understanding of stock and flow behaviours will improve after asking them to verify their expected behaviour using running total calculation and reflect if their expected behaviour was wrong. Comparisons with conventional approach to teach stock and flow dynamics and without teaching were also done, to my knowledge, the first time in controlled experiment. Results show that improvement is not significant; the hypothesis lacks support. On the other hand, conventional approach obtains significant improvement. Possible explanations of the results and their implications for education on dynamics, communication of complex dynamic problems and policy insights are discussed.
  Link to the file:
Children's Misconceptions as Barriers to Learning Stock-and-Flow Modeling
Author(s): Oren Zuckerman, & Mitchel Resnick Subject: Research
  Research has shown that people have difficulties understanding dynamic behavior. In an attempt to better understand the nature of these difficulties, we have developed a new modeling tool and conducted an exploratory study with young children. The modeling tool, called System Blocks, is a set of communicating plastic boxes with embedded computation that facilitates hands-on modeling and simulation of stock & flow structures. In the study, 5th grade students were asked to perform several assignments with System Blocks, dealing with concepts such as rates, accumulation, net-flow, and positive feedback. Our initial findings suggest there are common patterns in the way children think about dynamic behavior, which might account for some of the difficulties children as well as adults have when faced with dynamic behavior in general and stock & flow models in particular. These patterns include a tendency to prefer: quantity over process (stock over flow), sequential processes over simultaneous processes, and inflow over outflow.
Concept Learning - Feedback Loops
Author(s): Steve Wilhite Subject: Research
  This paper describes a project Steve Wilhite completed in 2008, for a class in his instructional systems technology program. It is an instructional analysis for a lesson on the concept of feedback loops.
Does a Model Facilitate Learning? Some preliminary experimental findings
Author(s): David Wheat, Robin Goldstein, & Larry Weathers Subject: Research
  The purpose of the experiment described in this paper is to compare the learning that takes place with different methods of delivering essentially the same information about Gross Domestic Product to student groups. The main delivery methods discussed are (1) simple narrative only, and (2) the same narrative, accompanied by a diagram revealed in stages, using STELLA's "story" feature. This experiment was administered to secondary students in the Harvard Public Schools in Massachusetts, and to community college and secondary students in Virginia. Tentative results suggest that students having access to the model structure learn more than students receiving only narrative instruction.
How Is This Similar to That? The skill of recognizing parallel dynamic structures on center stage
Author(s): Linda Booth Sweeney Subject: Research
  This article is intended to put systems educators' daily work in context for educational researchers and to highlight a central skill for schools seeking to teach students to see, understand, and ultimately affect the systems around them.
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