Chapter 14: A Formalised Conceptual Model-based Approach for Fostering and Assessing Students’ Systems Thinking in Undergraduate Chemistry Education
Published:12 Jul 2023
Real-world chemistry deals with complex systems, both artificial in the form of synthesized chemical products and natural in the form of chemical phenomena. Understanding these complex systems requires systems thinking—a holistic approach that views both human-made artefacts and natural phenomena as systems. In chemistry education, systems thinking looks at connections between chemical concepts, processes, and components, thus complementing traditional reductionism. This practitioner-focused chapter shows how systems thinking can be applied and taught in undergraduate chemistry education using a formalized approach adapted from systems engineering. This approach is suitable for teaching any sub-discipline of chemistry as well for multi-disciplinary teaching. This approach is demonstrated using a conceptual model created by a team of teacher–students tasked with representing a biochemical phenomenon. The modelling approach allows for representing various levels of chemistry understanding and for expressing systems thinking, which can then be analyzed. The conceptual modelling language and its software tool are free to learn via two massive open online courses available in English, Arabic, and Hebrew. The approach presented herein can potentially be modified for instruction in other fields in science, engineering, and society, as well as for teaching high school or graduate populations.