Instructional Representations as Tools to Teach Systems Thinking
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Emphasis on learning about systems in science education has long been part of national and state curricula, but the focus on implementing a “systems thinking” approach in science classrooms has grown in importance. Systems thinking involves helping students understand the complexity of systems by recognizing the interactions and interrelationships between system components and processes. Evidence from research has shown that effective systems thinking instruction requires teachers to explicitly use models and representations. The selection, interpretation, explanation and use of effective representations are dependent on classroom teachers for developing systems thinking and representational competence. This chapter examines representational competence in the context of lessons that teach systems thinking. Drawing on prior research, theoretical perspectives about systems thinking and the use of representations as instructional tools are discussed. A developed rubric is presented for examining teachers’ pedagogical perspectives when selecting representations for teaching about a complex system.
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