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ERIC Number: EJ887584
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-May
Pages: 24
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 66
ISSN: ISSN-0022-4308
System Thinking Skills at the Elementary School Level
Assaraf, Orit Ben-Zvi; Orion, Nir
Journal of Research in Science Teaching, v47 n5 p540-563 May 2010
This study deals with the development of system thinking skills at the elementary school level. It addresses the question of whether elementary school students can deal with complex systems. The sample included 40 4th grade students from one school in a small town in Israel. The students studied an inquiry-based earth systems curriculum that focuses on the hydro-cycle. The program involved lab simulations and experiments, direct interaction with components and processes of the water cycle in the outdoor learning environment and knowledge integration activities. Despite the students' minimal initial system thinking abilities, most of them made significant progress with their ability to analyze the hydrological earth system to its components and processes. As a result, they recognized interconnections between components of a system. Some of the students reached higher system thinking abilities, such as identifying interrelationships among several earth systems and identifying hidden parts of the hydrological system. The direct contact with real phenomena and processes in small scale scenarios enabled these students to create a concrete local water cycle, which could later be expanded into large scale abstract global cycles. The incorporation of outdoor inquiry-based learning with lab inquiry-based activities and knowledge integration assignments contributed to the 4th grade students' capacity to develop basic system thinking abilities at their young age. This suggests that although system thinking is regarded as a high order thinking skill, it can be developed to a certain extent in elementary school. With a proper long-term curriculum, these abilities can serve as the basis for the development of higher stages of system thinking at the junior-high/middle school level. (Contains 5 tables, 5 figures, and 1 note.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Education; Elementary Secondary Education; Grade 4
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Israel