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Wednesday, July 12 • 14:30 - 15:00
3177 Assessment of Systems Thinking and Systems Analysis Skills in Higher Education: the Case of a Sustainable Resource Management Program

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System thinking and system analysis are important skills in solving problems in our complex world. Research from the last two decades showed that students of all domains of sciences are not well prepared to understand correctly the dynamic behaviour of even very simple systems. This phenomenon can be tested and evaluated with help of so-called bathtub tasks that represent simple stock and flow relationships of simple systems. Many studies identified a surprisingly poor performance on different levels of education and even on the level of domain experts. This raises the question if sufficient education in system science will result in better performance to solve complex system problems. Since, 2001, the School of Forest Science and Resource Management of the Technische Universität München offers the International Master of Science (MSc.) Program in Sustainable Resource Management (SRM) which attracts students from all over the world. The SRM Programme includes classes in systems theory and systems analysis in order to improve students’ ability to understand and solve complex problems in interrelated systems that are commonly subject of resource management activities. At the beginning of the system theory class students are invited to participate in an assessment that includes a questionnaire and solving system dynamics tasks (bathtub tasks). The questionnaire asks about their personal and educational background, previous experiences in system sciences and their opinion about own skills and the relevance of system thinking in their career. The bathtub tasks are slightly modified applications of the original bathtub tasks so that results can be compared with other existing studies. The presentation will show some selected results and discuss some experiences from these activities. Until now, poor performances of master students still persist. Only very few students choose to focus more on system thinking and systems analysis skills in their further study programme. However, presumably other scientific methods and approaches are much more accepted and appreciated in conventional academic educational systems than systems thinking and system analysis. It is recommended to increase the presents and relevance of courses on system thinking and system analysis into contemporary academic education.

Wednesday July 12, 2017 14:30 - 15:00 CEST
3rd Floor, Room SR 121, Institut für Computertechnik,TU Wien Gußhausstraße 27-29, 1040 Wien, Austria