Abstract for: Hybrid Models in Developing System Thinking

Hybrid models, consisting of the interacting continuous and discrete processes, form an emerging field in science and engineering. Such models, combining stock-flow and state-diagram representations, should serve a part of the system education curriculum. The present paper reports an experiment in which undergraduate students were asked to choose between a hybrid and a continuous solution for a number of predefined problems. Results of the experiment show that the hybrid approach is more preferred by students with relatively low ability of dynamic thinking. We discuss the meaning of the results in terms of analyzing and improving mental models, and also discuss several contexts in which the hybrid approach enriches system thinking.