Abstract for: The Next 25 Years in Pre-College Education: A Move Toward Global Understanding of Complex Systems

In this paper we review some of the shortcomings of pre-college education in the past and identify some major educational trends that have significant potential to change student educational experiences in the future. One future trend that has direct impact on the systems thinking (ST) and system dynamics (SD) modeling work done in pre-college education is the move toward incorporating more “deeper learning activities” for students. We identify, from research, the impact that systems thinking and system dynamics modeling can and have had on pre-college student learning. Finally we summarize the results of a survey sent to a group of pre-college educators who use ST and SD in their instruction/work. The first purpose of the survey was to identify where, globally, systems thinking and system dynamics modeling are being used in pre-college classrooms. We feel the locations identified underestimate ST/SD use in pre-college education but it represents a first attempt at trying to document this information. The results of the survey indicate that the 72 educators whose data were part of the final survey analysis feel strongly that ST/SD tools offer students significantly improved learning experiences both in learning course content but especially in learning to think more deeply about problems when compared to average tools used for instruction. Some future steps needed to move pre-college ST/SD forward are identified.