Developing Seventh Grade Students’ Understanding of Complex Environmental Problems with Systems Tools and Representations: a Quasi-experimental Study
A systems-based classroom intervention on environmental education was designed for seventh grade students; the results were evaluated to see its impact on the development of systems thinking skills and standard science achievement and whether the systems approach is a more effective way to teach environmental issues that are dynamic and complex. A quasi-experimental methodology was used to compare performances of the participants in various dimensions, including systems thinking skills, competence in dynamic environmental problem solving and success in science achievement tests. The same pre-, post- and delayed tests were used with both the comparison and experimental groups in the same public middle school in Istanbul. Classroom activities designed for the comparison group (N = 20) followed the directives of the Science and Technology Curriculum, while the experimental group (N = 22) covered the same subject matter through activities benefiting from systems tools and representations such as behaviour over time graphs, causal loop diagrams, stock-flow structures and hands-on dynamic modelling. After a one-month systems-based instruction, the experimental group demonstrated significantly better systems thinking and dynamic environmental problem solving skills. Achievement in dynamic problem solving was found to be relatively stable over time. However, standard science achievement did not improve at all. This paper focuses on the quantitative analysis of the results, the weaknesses of the curriculum and educational implications.
KeywordsSystems thinking skills Environmental education Dynamic problem solving Dynamic modelling
This research was supported by Boğaziçi University Scientific Research Projects Commission project no. D5729, which enabled the provision of the materials, instruments and service required for the study. Besides, we would like to thank Professor Ebru Zeynep Muğaloğlu for her invaluable feedbacks and encouragement for this article.
- Bakioğlu, A., Kirisci-Sarıkaya, A. (2015). Eğitimde Özelleştirme (Eng. Privitazation in Education). Nobel Press, Istanbul, Turkey.Google Scholar
- Ball, D. L. (2000). Working on the inside: using one’s own practice as a site for studying teaching and learning. In A. Kelly & R. Lesh (Eds.), Handbook of research design in mathematics and science education (pp. 365–402). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
- Cho, K. (2010). Fostering the acquisition of English prepositions by Japanese learners with networks and prototypes. In S. Knob, F. Boers, & A. Rycker (Eds.), Fostering language teaching efficiency through cognitive linguistics (pp. 259–276). Germany: Hubert & Co..Google Scholar
- Duarte, C. M., Agusti, S., Wassmann, P., Arrieta, J. M., Alcaraz, M., Coello, A., Marba, N., Hendriks, I. E., Holding, J., Garcia-Zarandona, I., Kritzberg, E., & Vaque, D. (2012). Tipping elements in the artic marine ecosystems. AMBIO—a Journal of the Human Environment, 41(1), 44–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Evagorou, M., Korfiatis, K., Nicolaou, C., & Constantinou, C. (2009). An investigation of potential of interactive simulations for developing systems thinking skills in elementary school: a case study with fifth-graders and sixth-graders. International Journal of Science Education, 31(5), 655–674.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Gay, L. R., Mills, G. E., & Airasian, P. (2006). Educational research- competencies for analysis and applications (8th ed.). Ohio: Pearson.Google Scholar
- Giusti G. A. (2009). Human influences to Clear Lake, California. Retrieved November, 2013, from:http://www.lakecountywinegrape.org/growers/growersfiles/Human%20Influences%20on%20Clear%20Lake%202009.pdf.
- Gribbons B., Herman J. (1997). True and quasi-experimental designs. Practical assessment, Research & Evaluation, 5(14). Retrieved November, 2013, from: http://pareonline.net/getvn.asp?v=5&n=14.
- Güvender Press (2009). 7th grade 100% SBS science and technology test book [Turkish: 7. Sınıf %100 SBS Fen ve Teknoloji Soru Bankası]. Istanbul, Turkey.Google Scholar
- Guba, E. G., & Lincoln, Y. S. (1989). Fourth generation evaluation. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
- Lyneis, D. A., Fox-Melanson, D. (2001). The challenges of infusing system dynamics into a K-8 curriculum, 19th International Conference of the Systems Dynamics Society, Atlanta, Georgia, 23–27 July, 2001.Google Scholar
- Hannon, B., & Ruth, M. (2000). Dynamic modeling (2nd ed.). New York: Springer.Google Scholar
- Huck, S. W. (2012). Reading statistics and research (6th ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.Google Scholar
- Locke, S., Russo, R. O., Montoya, C. (2013). Environmental education and eco-literacy as tools of education for sustainable development. Journal of Sustainability Education, 4 Retrieved February 2016, from: http://www.jsedimensions.org/wordpress/content/environmental-education-and-eco-literacy-as-tools-of-education-for-sustainable-development_2013_02/.
- Malone, K., Fien, J., Guevara, J., and Lang, J. 2004. Education for sustainable development: Australia. Presented at UNESCO-NIER Regional Seminar on Policy Research and Capacity Building for Education Innovation for Sustainable Development, 27th July–3rd August 2004, Tokyo Japan.Google Scholar
- Merriam, S. B. (1998). Qualitative research and case study applications in education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Google Scholar
- Ministry of Education Board of Education (2013). “Talim Terbiye Kurulu Başkanlığı” (in Turkish). Retrieved November, 2013, from: http://ttkb.meb.gov.tr/www/guncellenen-ogretim-programlari-ve-kurul-kararlari/icerik/150
- Moxnes, E., Saysel, A. K. (2009). Misperceptions of global climate change: information policies. Climatic Change, 93(1-2), 15–37.Google Scholar
- Nuhoğlu, H. (2008). Studying effects of systems approach on attitude, achievement, and different skills in science and technology lesson [Turkish: İlköğretim Fen ve Teknoloji Dersinde Sistem Dinamiği Yaklaşımının Tutum, Başarıya ve Farklı Becerilere Etkisinin Araştrılması], Ph.D. Dissertation, Gazi University.Google Scholar
- Oran Yayıncılık (2008). 7th grade SBS science and technology test book [Turkish: 7. Sınıf SBS Fen ve Teknoloji Soru Bankası]. İzmir, Turkey.Google Scholar
- Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) (2013). Educational outlook: Turkey. Retrieved from: http://www.oecd.org/edu/EDUCATION%20POLICY%20OUTLOOK%20TURKEY_EN.pdf on February 15, 2016.
- Ossimitz, G. (2002). Stock-flow thinking and reading stock-flow related graphs: an empirical investigation in dynamic thinking abilities. 20th International Conference of the Systems Dynamics Society, Palermo, Italy, July 28–August 1, 2002. Retrieved November, 2013, from: http://wwwu.uni-klu.ac.at/gossimit/pap/sfthink.pdf.
- Patton, M. Q. (1983). Qualitative Evaluation Methods. (4th Edition). Sage Publications, California, USA. Google Scholar
- Perkins, D. N., & Salomon, G. (1992). Transfer of learning. International encyclopedia of education (2nd ed.). Oxford: Pergamon Press.Google Scholar
- Quaden, R., Ticotsky, A., & Lyneis, D. (2008). The shape of change: stocks and flows (Revised ed.). Massachusetts: Creative Learning Exchange.Google Scholar
- Razali, N. M., & Wah, Y. B. (2011). Power comparisons of Shapiro-Wilk, Kolmogorov-Smirnov, Lilliefors and Anderson-Darling tests. Journal of Statistical Modeling and Analytics, 2(1), 21–33.Google Scholar
- Science and Teachnology Curriculum (2013). “Fen ve Teknoloji Müfredatı” (in Turkish). Retrieved June, 2012, from: http://ttkb.meb.gov.tr
- Schunk, D. H. (2012). Learning theories: an educational perspective. Boston: Pearson Inc..Google Scholar
- Stave, K. A., Hopper, M. (2007). What constitutes systems thinking? A proposed taxonomy. 25th International Conference of the System Dynamics Society, July 29–August 2, 2007, Boston. Retrieved November, 2013, from: http://www.systemdynamics.org/conferences/2007/proceed/papers/STAVE210.pdf.
- System Dynamics in Education Project Group (2005). Roadmaps: a guide to learn system dynamics. Retrieved November, 2013, from Creative Learning Exchange—System Dynamics and Systems Thinking in K-12 Education Website: http://www.clexchange.org/curriculum/roadmaps.asp.
- Tunç, T., Bağcı, N., Yörük, N., Gürsoy Köroğlu, N., Çeltikli Altunoğlu, Ü., Başdağ, G., Keleş, Ö., İpek, İ., Bakar, E. (2011). Science and technology 7th grade course book [Turkish: Fen ve Teknoloji 7.Sınıf Ders Kitabı]. MEB Devlet Kitapları, Ankara, Turkey.Google Scholar
- Yıldıran, G. (2006). Multicultural applications of mastery learning: our thoughts our deeds and our hopes for education. Istanbul: Bogazici University Press.Google Scholar
- Zaraza, R., & Fisher, D. M. (1999). Training system modelers: the NSF CC-STADUS and CC-SUSTAIN projects. In W. Feurzeig & N. Roberts (Eds.), Modeling and simulation in science and mathematics education. NY.: Springer.Google Scholar