Does teaching students how to explicitly model the causal structure of systems improve their understanding of these systems?
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AbstractIf students really understand the systems they study, they would be able to tell how changes in the system would affect a result. This demands that the students understand the mechanisms that drive its behaviour. The study investigates potential merits of learning how to explicitly model the causal structure of systems. The approach and performance of 15 system dynamics students who are taught to explicitly model the causal structure of the systems they study were compared with the approach and performance of 22 engineering students, who generally did not receive such training. The task was to bring a computer-simulated predator-and-prey ecology to equilibrium. The system dynamics students were significantly more likely than the engineering students to correctly frame the problem. They were not much better at solving the task, however. It seemed that they had only learnt how to make models and not how to use them for reasoning.
TypeArticle in journal