Causality in Complex Dynamic Systems: A Challenge in Earth Systems Science Education

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Causality in Complex Dynamic Systems: A Challenge in Earth Systems Science Education Powered By Docstoc
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Description: The understanding of the mechanisms underlying processes such as self-organization, adaptation, emergence, which are characteristics of complex systems, is of paramount importance when teaching and learning science. Preliminary research on student understanding of complexity indicates that students tend to conceptualize dynamic systems in static disjointed terms, utilizing a linear-mono-causal approach which impedes a conceptual understanding of complex causal relations. Hypothesizing that student understanding of the principles of causality plays a fundamental role in the understanding of complexity, undergraduate science majors have been interviewed to explore their approaches to complex natural phenomena and document changes that occur in reasoning when a modified Aristotelian framework of causality principles is introduced. Results indicate that the understanding of emergence, downward causation, and self-organization are better conceptualized when students utilize the modified Aristotelian framework of causality principles. [PUBLICATION ABSTRACT]
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