Abstract for:Teaching a System Dynamics Approach (in a wide variety of “educational” contexts)

The system dynamics approach has long been viewed as a powerful framework for building understanding and improving performance in dynamic systems. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that there may be challenges for would-be practitioners in developing facility with “best practices” necessary for effective use of the approach. One possible source of these challenges may be our approach to teaching and learning system dynamics.

In this presentation, I share one perspective on teaching and learning system dynamics. Drawing from over 35 years’ experience working in the field—in software support, in workshop design, development and delivery, in consulting, and as a university instructor—I describe elements of a learning-by-doing approach that supports the development of best practices. I show how the approach is used in a 10-week undergraduate course at an Ivy League institution, and I illustrate how elements of the approach can be used to support thinking in systems in the context of a short, issue-focused workshop.  Informal observations on learning outcomes in a variety of educational contexts are offered. These provide a context for focused discussion on how we might do a better job of helping people to learn how to use system dynamics approaches to think, learn, and improve their world.