Abstract for: Using Group Model Building to Introduce High School Students to System Dynamics

This presentation highlights the experiences and potential of using group model building (GMB) to introduce students and teachers through a series of learning projects. The learning projects were developed as part of larger ongoing collaboration between Ritenour School District and the Social System Design Lab at Washington University in St. Louis. Each GMB project focused on an issue that was relevant to the participants (school safety, educational attainment, and positive teacher-students relationships) and involved students, staff, and administrators as participants. GMB projects were designed and led by university students and staff in the Social System Design Lab, most with a social work interest in K-12. Sessions ranged from single to multiple-session GMB projects using a series of structured or “scripted” group model building exercises. The three learning projects illustrated the feasibility of using GMB as a teaching tool for introducingsystem dynamics high school students, training for graduate students in GMB, and capacity building for teachers and administrators in systems thinking. Additionally, participants were able to develop system insights about the structure underlying each issue and identified potential solutions.