I’m privileged to have the opportunity to teach others about System Dynamics (SD) modeling and feel honored my students share their feedback with me.
Participants (teachers) in the 10-week summer program for online SD Course 1 offered here (online SD Courses) gave valuable feedback about the course.
“I thought it was a great course. I liked how explicit all the instructions were for the computer modeling.”
[What did you like best about this course] “The fact that we were building actual models and exercising them instead of just reading about it.”
“You really are a master teacher. It is not always you complete a class and say, “WOW, that instructor was awesome.”
“Your detailed feedback was priceless.”
“Videos were outstanding. They were at a pace I could follow along. They were broken into reasonable time and information chunks.”
One training that was particularly rewarding was sponsored by NASA and was held over a two-week period with six hours of instruction each day. The participants were math teachers in the Langley, VA region. Their objective was to learn to incorporate modeling and simulation lessons into their middle school and high school mathematics classes.
“I enjoyed the entire experience and I learned so much that I hope to implement in class.”
“Wonderful activities. High interest. Easy to duplicate. Very resourceful.”
“The way the workshop was designed I feel confident I will use this.”
“Thank you so much for these two weeks. The lesson time was wonderful and I feel I got to a really well done lesson.”
“I loved the class. I believe it will make me a more effective teacher and will also make my job more enjoyable. I am very grateful for this opportunity. Many thanks to Diana and NASA.”
If you’re planning on teaching System Dynamics (SD) modeling at the secondary school level, be prepared for the flood of positive feedback from your students.
One of the more meaningful comments came from a Senior in 1990 who was failing Algebra II. He said:
“Why didn’t we do this [build and manipulate an SD population model] sooner. This I understand!”
As his teacher, witnessing this lightbulb moment was thrilling.
After having students use System Dynamics to create models to deepen their understanding of functions in algebra II classes and apply what they learned to systemic problems (8 class periods spread out over an academic year), a few students noted how SD modeling helped them apply what they were learning to real world situations.
“It was a good experience, it helped the concepts come alive.”
“Helps in real life. Learned you need to make good decisions on amounts when taking medication.”
“One of the first math lessons I can imagine using in real life.”
“Makes me think twice on how many pills and what intervals to take them.”
“Graphical representations of exponential functions were broken down into distinct pieces with specific purposes that could be easily understood.”
“Helps us to see how to apply math in the real world.”
“Educational and interesting at the same time.”
I especially like this last comment – as if something educational can’t be fun too.
Many of these same sentiments were repeated in comments from students in an AP Calculus course. These students used SD modeling during a 6-class unit after the AP exam.
“I thought it was interesting and helped me apply calculus to the real world.”
“When thinking about world problems, I get a lot better of an idea of what’s happening.”
“This seemed to apply to real life situations much more than the other parts of the year.”
“It was interesting and fun to do as well as having a better understanding of functions.”
“It’s interesting to see how the math we learned is applied in real life.”
“Helps me to better visualize graphs and predict graphs in my mind.”
“Good to learn the connections in real life scenarios.”
Here we see students not only expressing how they see real life connections, but also expressing how the modeling helped them make connections with traditional equation-based mathematics.
The longer students were exposed to SD modeling, the more details they offered in their feedback. These students had one class each month during the school year (total of 8 class periods). They were a subset of students from an anatomy and physiology class.
“By doing these models it helped me expand my knowledge. By getting into the harder models I could actually understand what I am doing in class.”
“Models reflected real world scenarios – not theoretical ones.”
“The entire learning process of homeostasis, and applying that to the Stella models was so rewarding and interesting. Not only did I learn new things, my understanding of concepts reviewed in class deepened and expanded.”
“I feel like it [SD modeling] helped me understand the connections between systems in the body.”
“I feel I learned important information. During the thermoregulation model, I could see how the body reacted and how the body functioned.”
“It [the SD model] organized the processes in a way that could easily be understood.”
“I think I learned a lot of useful information. Learning about how long drugs stay in the body was quite useful. It gave me a visual aid on how the concepts worked, especially the calcium homeostasis.”
“I think the beginning and the end of the [anatomy and physiology] course my understanding of Stella diagrams, systems of the body has increased. I learned a lot. It’s [SD modeling] comparatively more detailed than A&P [book] on these systems.”
SD modeling had an even more profound result for high school students in a full year-long System Dynamics modeling course.
“This class gave me a deeper understanding of other courses, especially Bio and global studies.”
“It helped me look at some of the other stuff that I learned in other class[es] in a new light. For example, it helped with math and with economics and physics.”
“The more modeling options I gained from a lesson, the more I enjoyed it – the more I got from it.”
“The two news article assignments helped me sooo much. I don’t think I truly believed I could use STELLA by myself until then. The model and paper were fun and extremely enlightening. It’s the first course I’ve encountered that actually challenged me.”
“The entire class made me think, which is more than I can say for some of my other classes. The class was well done.”
“The project was a really good experience and I’m very glad I did it. My partner and I worked really hard on it and I really learned a lot about my topic. I really learned a lot [in this class] and liked how the class was structured differently than others, and I feel very accomplished now that it’s over.”
“I really enjoyed this class and thought everything was really important. This class was not what I expected, it was much better. I was really challenged by the material. I enjoyed this class a lot.”
“Rigorous, but the rigorous work drove us to succeed. I enjoyed [the class] even more than I had thought.”
“Great class. The purpose [of modeling] is to understand the causes of things that happen every day. It helps understand the core of problems and lets you find ways to solve a problem, not just sympathize.”
“This is the most fascinating class I’ve ever taken. It’s an area of study that allows me to use all my different skill sets. It has given me new ideas about what it is possible to understand and explain.”