ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202111.0299.v1
Subject: Social Sciences, Education Keywords: Education for Sustainable Development; Systems Thinking; System Dynamics; simulation; transfer of skills; effectiveness; randomised controlled trial; RCT; factorial study; ANOVA
Online: 17 November 2021 (10:47:24 CET)
Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) is considered vital to the success of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Systems Thinking has been identified as a core competency necessary to incorporate into ESD. Systems Thinking orientated ESD learning tools, established methods of assessment of sustainability skills, and studies to demonstrate effectiveness of such learning tools, are all lacking. There is a wealth of experience in the System Dynamics field regarding the application of Systems Thinking and simulation to environmental problems, sustainability and systems education. Many System Dynamicists regard simulation as essential for teaching Systems Thinking. The substantial body of research into the design of effective simulation-based learning environments (SBLEs) can also inform ESD initiatives. This research describes a randomised controlled trial (n=106) to investigate whether an online sustainability learning tool that incorporates Systems Thinking and System Dynamics simulation increases understanding of a specific problem and supports transfer of knowledge to a second problem with a similar systemic structure. The effects of Systems Thinking and simulation were tested separately and in combination. The learning tool was designed for a single online learning session. Simulation was found to increase ESD learning outcomes significantly, and also to support transfer of skills, although less significantly.