Abstract for: Keeping Students with the Curriculum: Using a Systems Dynamics Approach to Elementary Education

A study was performed by the authors as an exploration into the systems dynamics of education. The objective of this study was to analyze which factors help students keep up with the curriculum best in the context of a systems dynamics model. For this study, only factors which can be influenced by professionals in education were considered. The long term vision of this study is to enable professionals in education to see a range of possible results of changes to the school on keeping students with the curriculum (possibly through an online tool). To achieve this, a systems dynamics model of a generic elementary school was built using Vensim. The model was tested under a series of systematically altered conditions and sensitivity analyses were performed. Difficulties in measuring psychological factors necessitated assumptions regarding certain factors such as levels of teacher enthusiasm. The major findings of the study, are that teacher training in an archetypal good school and a combination of policy measures in an archetypal bad school have the largest influence on students keeping up with the curriculum.