NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
PDF on ERIC Download full text
ERIC Number: EJ1164605
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Mar
Pages: 21
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-1089-9995
Strategies and Rubrics for Teaching Chaos and Complex Systems Theories as Elaborating, Self-Organizing, and Fractionating Evolutionary Systems
Fichter, Lynn S.; Pyle, E. J.; Whitmeyer, S. J.
Journal of Geoscience Education, v58 n2 p65-85 Mar 2010
To say Earth systems are complex, is not the same as saying they are a complex system. A complex system, in the technical sense, is a group of -agents (individual interacting units, like birds in a flock, sand grains in a ripple, or individual units of friction along a fault zone), existing far from equilibrium, interacting through positive and negative feedbacks, forming interdependent, dynamic, evolutionary networks, that possess universality properties common to all complex systems (bifurcations, sensitive dependence, fractal organization, and avalanche behaviour that follows power-law distributions.) Chaos/complex systems theory behaviors are explicit, with their own assumptions, approaches, cognitive tools, and models that must be taught as deliberately and systematically as the equilibrium principles normally taught to students. We present a learning progression of concept building from chaos theory, through a variety of complex systems, and ending with how such systems result in increases in complexity, diversity, order, and/or interconnectedness with time--that is, evolve. Quantitative and qualitative course-end assessment data indicate that students who have gone through the rubrics are receptive to the ideas, and willing to continue to learn about, apply, and be influenced by them. The reliability/validity is strongly supported by open, written student comments.
National Association of Geoscience Teachers. Carleton College W-SERC, One North College Street, Northfield, MN 55057. Tel: 540-568-6675; Fax: 540-568-8058; e-mail:; Website:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Middle Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A