Systems Thinking makes it possible to analyse and understand complex phenomena.
Systems Thinking is the process of understanding how things, regarded as systems, influence one another within a whole. In nature, systems thinking examples include ecosystems in which various elements such as air, water, plants, and animals work together to survive or perish. In organisations, such as schools or classrooms, systems consist of people, structures, and processes that work together to make an organisation "healthy" or "unhealthy".
Systems thinking has been defined as an approach to problem solving, by viewing "problems" as parts of an overall system, rather than reacting to specific part, outcomes or events. Systems thinking is not however one thing but a set of habits or practices[ within a framework that is based on the belief that the component parts of a system can best be understood in the context of relationships with each other and with other systems, rather than in isolation. This approach to systems thinking focuses on cyclical or repeating rather than linear cause and effect.
A system is an organised group of related objects or components that form a whole. Systems thinking is a holistic approach to the identification and solving of problems where the focal points are treated as components of a system, and their interactions and interrelationships are analysed individually to see how they influence the functioning of the entire system.
A holistic approach to the identification and solving of problems where parts and components of a system, their interactions and interrelationships are analysed individually to see how they influence the functioning of the whole system. This approach enables students to understand systems and work with complexity, uncertainty and risk.
The several ways to think of and define a system include:
An example of systems thinking would be understanding a problem with a bicycle not braking fast enough. Rather than trying to improve the brake by looking in great detail at the material composition of the brake pads (a reductionist approach), the boundary of the braking system may be extended to include the interactions between the:
By considering the various systems involved, innovative solutions to the problem may emerge that may not have been thought of when considering just the aspect that is seemingly the most relevant.
Sometimes design solutions have unintended outcomes, these can be positive such as an unforeseen use for a product, but can also be a negative outcome such as an environmental impact.
The importance of systems thinking by looking at decisions made without considering systems
Systems thinking can also be described as the process of understanding how a group of interacting, interrelated, interdependent components influence each other within the whole. Rather than viewing each problem as an independent entity, it must be considered in the context of its relationship to other parts of the system. Systems thinking teaches students how to solve problems, communicate, use data, and design policies for greater success.
By making or modifying a model and plugging in data, students can almost immediately see the influence of their choices. This type of interactive learning is the key to engaging their interests.
When playing computer games, students make decisions for the characters based on noticeable patterns. For example, in Nintendo’s Mario Kart, players drive on a race track and try to avoid falling. Every time they leave the path, they slow down or crash into the wall. Also, many things may change the behavior of the players or the characters throughout the race. For example, by driving into a multicolored box, they might encounter a Super Mushroom that acts as a speed boost. Players can even change the behavior of their opponents by putting obstacles such as banana peels in their way to slow them down. A video game that is well-designed is like a system with interacting and interrelated parts that influence one another.
The following is not included in the course quizzes
Flu Outbreak in your School Simulation
Virtual Hamlet Simulation
Tools to build models
Grade 1 students use Systems Thinking to explore bullying negative reinforcement cycles
Considering schools as systems and using school systems to teach systems thinking
Rats of Nimh
Making Friends Causal Loop Activity
Simulations are computer models of systems in which inputs can be changed to see different outputs.
In and Out Game Simulation
The Tree Game Simulation
Infection Game Simulation
Making Friends Simulation
Thinking About Drinking Simulation
Behind Closed Gates: Potential dynamics when one group or individual is given complete control over anotherThis lesson with accompanying simulation is loosely based on an experiment that was conducted at Stanford University in 1971. Phillip Zimbardo wanted to see how typical people would act if they were asked to take on roles of prisoners and prison guards for a two-week period. The experiment was stopped after only six days because of escalating, abusive behavior of the guards and concerns about the well-being of the prisoners. In the simulation, students take on the role of a social scientist, trying to understand how a similar situation (with guards having complete control over prisoners) can create specific human responses, such as fear, repression, and resistance. They can then compare this situation to a host of other similar situations, fictional or real.
Behind Closed Gates Simulation
More MakeyMakey examples
Details of assessment can be found on the Learning@Griffith website under Assessment.
Of particular note is that some assessment occurs during tutorials in Weeks 2, 4 and 6.
Discussion: In what ways has technology changed society?
Discussion: What benefits can students gain from Systems Thinking?
Discussion: How do stock, flow and feedback contribute to Systems Thinking?
Discussion: How do simulations help develop Systems Thinking?
Complete at least 4 of the following simulation activities, through to explaining the Causal Loops, Flow Maps and Connection Circles.Activity - complete In-and-Out simulation
Activity - complete the Tree simulation
Activity - complete the Infection simulation
Activity - complete the Making Friends simulation
Activity - complete the Thinking About Drinking simulation.
Activity - Behind Closed Gates: Potential dynamics when one group or individual is given complete control over another
Create your own Causal Loops, Flow Maps and Connection Circles for a simulation of your choice, be prepared to share this with your tutorial group. You should have at least five causal loops.
Start your design on paper, drawing a Flow Map or using a Connection Circle to generate your causal loops, you can then try and simulate this on the computer if you have time using https://insightmaker.com/