Back to the drawing board : creating drawing or text summaries in support of system dynamics modelling

W.K. Kenbeek

Research output: ThesisPhD Thesis - Research UT, graduation UT

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System Dynamics modelling is a promising tool to teach secondary school students how complex systems (such as the climate on earth) work, as well as to give these students the opportunity to experience how System Dynamics modelling can be used in science. However, research to date has shown that students have a strong need for support to be able to create System Dynamics models themselves. Therefore, this PhD thesis investigates two intermediate representations that can help students bridge the gap between their (informal) prior knowledge and the formal System Dynamics modelling language: text summaries and drawing summaries. The first study investigated the students’ ability to create a drawing summary from a short science text. The results showed that students were able to draw the important role players of the system (sun, Earth, atmosphere) but failed to draw all the processes occurring between them. The second study investigated the influence of creating a drawing or a text summary as a bridging representation for a System Dynamics modelling task. It was concluded that for both the drawing and the text condition information was lost in the process of creating the summary and the model. More specifically, students had trouble with the translation from verbal to non-verbal representations: the drawing condition lost more information in the process of creating the drawing summary, while the text condition lost more information in the process of creating the model. In the third study the influence of integrating summary- and model representation was investigated. It was concluded that integration was detrimental when two non-verbal representations were integrated (drawing and model), while it was beneficial when a verbal and a non-verbal representation were integrated (text and model). The fourth and final study investigated the influence of a five month training in creating drawing summaries on science topics on students’ ability to create drawing summaries on a new topic and their ability to create a model. The results suggest that the training was beneficial for students in senior general secondary education (HAVO), while not having an effect on pre-university secondary education students (VWO).
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Twente
  • van Joolingen, Wouter, Supervisor
  • de Jong, Ton, Supervisor
Award date31 Oct 2012
Place of PublicationEnschede
Print ISBNs9789036534598
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2012


  • METIS-288875
  • IR-82176

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