System Dynamics As A Mindtool For Environmental Education

Year: 2005

Author: Davison, Kate, Reimann, Peter

Type of paper: Refereed paper

Concern for the environment is increasing but understanding and factual knowledge of environmental problems and systems are both low. The challenge is for school students to learn the skills needed to interpret the complex, dynamic environmental systems that even university graduates have trouble understanding. System dynamics is a modelling approach that is often used in environmental management and decision-making in order to cope with the underlying complexities. The problem is that, even though system dynamics models reduce complexity, they are still too demanding for direct use in environmental education. In the educational literature, multiple representations and learning by modelling are two techniques that have been suggested to aid in learning about complex systems. System dynamics models comprise multiple representation describing complex interactions. Studies on multiple representations have had mixed results, but under the right circumstances, may provide an effective way to teach a complex subject such as environmental education. Studies about learning by modelling have also had mixed results. While learning by modelling provides an authentic learning task for science students, the time involved in teaching students the process in addition to the domain knowledge is often lengthy. Suggestions for further research and for the design of future work in these areas of system dynamics modelling and environmental education are derived.