Abstract for: Does learning to reflect make better modellers?
In this paper we address the role of reflective skills in the development and training of new System Dynamics modellers at the tertiary education level. Over the last two years students at the Delft University of Technology have written a reflective essay on their experiences with the conceptualisation, formulation, validation and use of a System Dynamics model in addressing the fictitous, but realistic, problems of a public policy maker. The degree to which they apply the cursory reflective training that they receive and the effect of this intentional reflection on their acquisition and application of modelling skills is evaluated. While some students do attempt to address the added value of a modelling approach to their client and their role in actualising this, the majority of students focus their attention on the strengths and weaknesses of their model and the dilemmas they face in executing the modelling cycle. By presenting the metaphor used in teaching these reflective skills and analyzing the questionnaires completed by the students, we are able to gain further insights regarding the views held by the aspirant modellers of the choices they face in building and using their models. This then feeds back to improve our teaching.