Students' Understanding of Complex Dynamic Systems
Federica Raia May 2005 Journal of Geoscience Education v53 n3 p297
This study from the Journal of Geoscience Education looks at students' approach to complex dynamic systems and the mental models they use to construct knowledge. Results show that students tend to conceptualize dynamic systems in static disjointed terms, considering the isolated behavior of the constituent components. Students also identify a single causal force, or linear chain of unique causal forces, to explain complex natural phenomena. Students' attitudes as well as system of beliefs are unaffected in the absence of a fundamental shift of paradigm from a linear-causal thinking approach to a systems thinking approach. This change is characterized by the recognition of the mutual interactions of system components, the ability to distinguish between micro and macro levels of analysis and the understanding of system's emergent property.