An Interview-Based Study of Pioneering Experiences in Teaching and Learning Complex Systems in Higher Education
Journal article, 2018
Due to the interdisciplinary nature of complex systems as a field, students studying complex systems at university level have diverse disciplinary backgrounds. This brings challenges (e.g., wide range of computer programming skills) but also opportunities (e.g., facilitating interdisciplinary interactions and projects) for the classroom. However, little has been published regarding how these challenges and opportunities are handled in teaching and learning complex systems as an explicit subject in higher education and how this differs in comparison to other subject areas. We seek to explore these particular challenges and opportunities via an interview-based study of pioneering teachers and learners (conducted amongst the authors) regarding their experiences. We compare and contrast those experiences and analyze them with respect to the educational literature. Our discussions explored approaches to curriculum design, how theories/models/frameworks of teaching and learning informed decisions and experience, how diversity in student backgrounds was addressed, and assessment task design. We found a striking level of commonality in the issues expressed as well as the strategies handling them, for example, a significant focus on problem-based learning and the use of major student-led creative projects for both achieving and assessing learning outcomes.