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Introduction to the Special Issue “Dynamic Decision-Making in Controlled Experiments”
Open AccessArticle

Effects of Structural Transparency in System Dynamics Simulators on Performance and Understanding

1
System Dynamics Group, Department of Geography, University of Bergen, Postbox 7800, Bergen 5020, Norway
2
College of Education, University of Iowa, 370 Lindquist Center, Iowa City, IA 52242, USA
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Andreas Größler and Hendrik Stouten
Systems 2015, 3(4), 152-176; https://doi.org/10.3390/systems3040152
Received: 31 August 2015 / Revised: 23 September 2015 / Accepted: 24 September 2015 / Published: 1 October 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dynamic Decision Making in Controlled Experiments)
Prior exploration is an instructional strategy that has improved performance and understanding in system-dynamics-based simulators, but only to a limited degree. This study investigates whether model transparency, that is, showing users the internal structure of models, can extend the prior exploration strategy and improve learning even more. In an experimental study, participants in a web-based simulation learned about and managed a small developing nation. All participants were provided the prior exploration strategy but only half received prior exploration embedded in a structure-behavior diagram intended to make the underlying model’s structure more transparent. Participants provided with the more transparent strategy demonstrated better understanding of the underlying model. Their performance, however, was the equivalent to those in the less transparent condition. Combined with previous studies, our results suggest that while prior exploration is a beneficial strategy for both performance and understanding, making the model structure transparent with structure-behavior diagrams is more limited in its effect. View Full-Text
Keywords: dynamic decision making; instructional overlays; interactive learning environment; model transparency; performance; simulation gaming; system dynamics; transfer of learning; understanding dynamic decision making; instructional overlays; interactive learning environment; model transparency; performance; simulation gaming; system dynamics; transfer of learning; understanding
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Kopainsky, B.; Alessi, S.M. Effects of Structural Transparency in System Dynamics Simulators on Performance and Understanding. Systems 2015, 3, 152-176.

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