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Tuesday, July 11 • 17:30 - 18:00
3069 Soft Systems Methodology and Cognitive Mapping: A Linkage Between the Initial Phases of Designing Educational Systems

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Systems Thinking enables to simplify our thinking about and management of complex realities and messes. Throughout the existence of the Systems Thinking philosophy several systems approaches have been developed with varying perspectives and purposes. This paper focus on the Soft Systems Methodology (SSM) which emerged from the Hard Systems approaches, such as Systems Engineering. The aim was to use systems principles for unstructured, ill-defined problematical situations. The main system concepts that SSM build on are emerging properties, hierarchy, and feedback communication. Through its use the notion of worldview for meaningful actions has evolved as crucial. This paper builds on this notion and include Cognitive Mapping to make plain different worldviews and their relation to meaningful action in a hierarchical approach. Cognitive Mapping also has its roots in Systems Thinking approaches. Its origins in psychology and have been included in Operational Research applications with the aim of mapping and representing how a person thinks about a particular situation, issue or problem.

The paper discusses the features of Soft Systems Methodology and Cognitive Mapping including the interrelation. The combination of these approaches is demonstrated in a case which investigates the complexity of compulsory school teachers’ use of digital technologies in their everyday practice. The research followed a focused ethnographic approach, based on observations and interviews, which allowed the researcher to collect rich empirical data that related to various stakeholder perspectives. These perspectives affect the everyday practice of the school teachers and their possibilities to combine use of digital technology in education and own teaching philosophy.

Through the combination of Cognitive Mapping and one of the SSM modelling techniques we demonstrate an approach that bridges the richness of the real-world situation and the analytical phase of SSM. This approach advanced the understanding of underlying factors that contribute to the complexity of this particular situation and enabled insights which, if transferred to appropriate actions, may lead to an improved situation for involved stakeholders.

Tuesday July 11, 2017 17:30 - 18:00
3rd Floor, Room SR 121, Institut für Computertechnik,TU Wien Gußhausstraße 27-29, 1040 Wien, Austria

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