Teach the Earth > Complex Systems > Developing Student Understanding of Complex Systems in the Geosciences

Developing Student Understanding of Complex Systems in the Geosciences

April 18-20, 2010
Carleton College, Northfield, MN


Note: This workshop has already taken place. See the Workshop Program for links to presentations, discussions, and other material from the workshop.


Complex systems are, in a word, complex. Yet the understanding the behavior of dynamic systems is essential to many fields of study, from economics to the physical sciences. Developing and assessing student understanding of systems – their components, fluxes, and non-linear behavior – presents multiple challenges. Where do you start? What conceptual frameworks are effective? What pedagogical methods are well-suited to the task?
Conceptual and historical overview of complexity science. This image is from the Art & Science Factory website. Click on the image to view a larger version.

This workshop is for faculty who

  • teach about or study complex systems, in the geosciences and in other fields such as science, economics, and engineering
  • research the development of conceptual understanding of complex systems, or
  • study the process of teaching or learning about complex systems.

We will bring together science educators, educational researchers, and cognitive scientists to share their understanding about successful strategies in teaching and learning about complex systems.

Workshop Conveners

  • Cathy Manduca, Science Education Resource Center, Carleton College
  • Dave Mogk, Montana State University
  • David Bice, The Pennsylvania State University
  • Eric Pyle, James Madison University
  • Jim Slotta, University of Toronto

This workshop is part of the On the Cutting Edge professional development program for current and future geoscience faculty, and is sponsored by the National Association of Geoscience Teachers with funding provided by a grant from the National Science Foundation - Division of Undergraduate Education.

This workshop is one of the 2010 On the Cutting Edge Emerging Theme Workshops, which are designed to move critical ideas and concepts into the mainstream of geoscience education. This workshop was built upon prior workshops such as Teaching About Energy in Geoscience Courses, the Role of Metacognition in Teaching Geoscience, and Teaching about the Early Earth.


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