Abstract for: Instruction matters: Teaching high school students system dynamics

This study investigates whether instruction matters when system dynamics is taught in K-12 education. An experiment was conducted at two high schools in the Netherlands, using Conditions of Learning at one school and Problem-based Learning at the other. Pre- and post-tests were conducted to see whether the students improved in performance, and the studentsí homework was analysed using both quantitative and qualitative analyses. There was no improvement in performance between the pre-test and post-test, but the qualitative analysis showed that the students did improve on certain topics, e.g. understanding stocks and flows and feedback The quantitative analysis showed that the students educated with Conditions of Learning performed better overall than the students educated with Problem-based Learning. Students scored relatively high on questions that probed for using knowledge they obtained during the lessons, but relatively low on explaining why certain structures (e.g. feedback, delays) worked. This study proposes improved aspects of learning for system dynamics education. It is better to teach them with a more traditional approach, and shift towards a more constructivist approach when they understand the basic principles.