The myriad of problems facing the world today are increasingly complex, dynamic, and transcend multiple domains. This necessitates the need for trans-disciplinary approaches capable of providing a framework to help solve these problems. Systems thinking provides the skills necessary for people to approach these types of problems. However, a lack of awareness and understanding of systems thinking hinders a potential systems-literate and systems-capable society. Systems thinking is comprised of four underlying concepts or skills: distinction-making, organizing systems, inter-relating, and perspective-taking. The path to becoming a systems thinker follows a process comprised of three levels—sensibility (awareness of systems), literacy (knowledge of systems), and capability (understanding of systems)—repeated across multiple learning phases. During this research study, a method was defined to measure whether non-experts learned the underlying systems thinking concepts according to this learning process. An experiment was conducted with 97 middle and high school students who were asked to draw a fish-tank system before and after being taught to apply the systems thinking concepts as skills for identifying elements, interactions, and roles/purposes. The results provide evidence to conclude that student learning of systems thinking significantly increased from the first drawing to the second drawing.
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