Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: https://scholarbank.nus.edu.sg/handle/10635/202904
Title: Teaching systems thinking concepts during a pandemic: 3 strategies forengaging learners
Authors: Tan, Yuen Ling Lynette 
Varma, Navarun
Balakrishnan, Naviyn Prabhu 
Issue Date: 8-Dec-2020
Citation: Tan, Yuen Ling Lynette, Varma, Navarun, Balakrishnan, Naviyn Prabhu (2020-12-08). Teaching systems thinking concepts during a pandemic: 3 strategies forengaging learners. Higher Education Campus Conference (e-HECC) 2020. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: Among the pressing concerns in the thick of the current global pandemic, particularly in the context of Higher Education Residential Colleges, is the educators’ ability to create a sense of community amongst students, as well as to effectively facilitate online learning. Residential College 4 (RC4) offers a ‘Living-Learning Programme’ (Inkelas, 2016) within the National University of Singapore. The curriculum focuses on ‘Systems Thinking’ – both as a philosophy and a diagnostic tool arising from the principle of interconnectedness in the world. Internationally, educational institutions like RC4 are also termed ‘Living-Learning Communities’ (LLCs) where the interaction and collaboration that arise from community living are at the top of what students expect. For semester 1 of AY2020-2021, our faculty addressed these challenges of teaching in a pandemic on two fronts—creating hybrid classrooms that would integrate as much of the face to face (f2f) experience for undergraduate residents as possible, and using asynchronous material to support students in their online learning. To encourage student engagement, education technologies such as gamification are also utilized. The basis for these strategies are established practices from pedagogical theory: active learning stemming from Vygotsky (1978) and popularized in Hattie’s ‘visible learning’ (2012) as well as Bloom’s taxonomy (1956, 2001). This paper considers the employment and impact of those strategies in three Systems classrooms – UTC2706 ‘Committed to Changing Our World: The Systems Pioneers’ (n=24), UTC1702F ‘Thinking in Systems: Disaster Resilience’ (n=48) and UTC1702B ‘Thinking in Systems: Diseases and Healthcare’ (n=32), with a total number of 104 students participating in the study. The students are mostly first and second year undergraduates attached to RC4 and are majors from the Faculties of Engineering, Computing, Science and the Arts and Social Sciences. UTC2706 deepens students’ understanding of Systems concepts using a hybrid classroom throughout the module where students experience f2f interaction on a rotational basis. Students outside are projected onto the screen where students are taught in the physical classroom simultaneously through Zoom and community is built at the interface between the two groups. UTC1702F teaches Systems concepts related to disasters using gamification (‘Forest@Risk’) and other platforms, with partial use of a hybrid classroom. UTC1702B blends asynchronous material and a messaging app (Telegram) with the fully online Zoom classroom in the study of diseases and healthcare. In each case the principles of active learning, where the student engages in the learning process and builds on his prior knowledge, are adhered to. A sense of community is also created via collaboration and teamwork. Finally, a common survey is administered to gauge student reception of the strategies and the level of community experienced, and whether there is a significant difference in students’ perceptions regarding this sense of community across these classes. The research question the survey aims to answer is: “What are students’ perceptions of connectedness and learning when a blend of online, asynchronous resources and face-to-face teaching strategies are used in the Systems Thinking classroom?” Rovai's (2002) Classroom Community Scale, which measures a sense of community via two subscales (learning and connectedness), is used as a basis for the survey. Unlike similar studies that find a marked distinction between fully online and hybrid classrooms (Ritter et al, 2010), our project investigates whether this sense of community will be significantly different when strategies of active learning are employed across these 3 Systems classrooms. Historically the research and experience of teaching and teaching well has mostly focused on the f2f environment. However, in the present climate, the ability to effectively wield online tools in digital education has moved irrevocably to the forefront. This paper shows three examples of how we as educators can innovate by using these online tools, while embracing the principles of good teaching, to best support our students in their learning. (619 words) References: Anderson, L. W., Krathwohl, D. R., & Bloom, B. S. (2001). A taxonomy for learning, teaching, and assessing: A revision of bloom's taxonomy of educational objectives (Complete ed.). Longman. Bloom, B. S. (1956). Taxonomy of educational objectives: The classification of educational goals (1st ed.). Longmans, Green & Co. Hattie, J. (2012). Visible learning for teachers: Maximizing impact on learning. Routledge. Inkelas, K. K. (2016). ‘Good practices of living-learning programmes’. Asian Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 6(1): 64–76. Ritter, C., Polnick, B., Fink, R., & Oescher, J. (2010). Classroom learning communities in educational leadership: A comparison study of three delivery options. The Internet and Higher Education, 13(1-2), 96-100. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.iheduc.2009.11.005 Rovai, A. (2002). Development of an instrument to measure classroom community. The Internet and Higher Education, 5(3), 197−211. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1096-7516(02)00102-1 Get rights and content Vygotsky, L. S., & Cole, M. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Harvard University Press.
Source Title: Higher Education Campus Conference (e-HECC) 2020
URI: https://scholarbank.nus.edu.sg/handle/10635/202904
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