Abstract for: Towards the use of model structure analysis for designing flexible learning itineraries

Some large system dynamics models drive simulator interfaces used for teaching; this is the case of the MacroLab model. Such a model may be useful for making students with basic instruction in system dynamics explore the economy as a dynamic system, allowing for diverse inquiry itineraries. The question is if different exploration itineraries yield sufficiently similar learning outcomes. This has been tried with ten student groups. The results are encouraging, but also indicate that the inquiry scenario design should be based on systematic analysis of the model’s structure: some variables may not be reachable from everywhere. An ad-hoc structure exploration found such isolated areas. The use of a reachability matrix is suggested and an initial example is shown. Also, students need systematic guidance in constructing a loop set that will frame their exploration. Concluding, it is argued that this kind of instructional design may bring other large system dynamics models closer to instructional use.