Evaluating System Dynamics as a Tool for Teaching History
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History has been traditionally taught as a presentation of isolated facts, which are hardly related by students. Furthermore, students are seldom encouraged to transfer what they learn at school to interpret different happenings over time. Thus, they lack understanding of history’s relevance for them. The conventional method of teaching history appears to be unlikely to prepare students to face the challenges of modern society. Therefore, there is a strong need of improving the conventional teaching method for students to see history as a subject whose understanding goes beyond the past and provides tools to interpret other situations that behave alike. The System Dynamics (SD) approach seems to be an attractive method to teach history mainly because relationships between different variables that made history unfold can be clearly described through the SD approach. SD may be, then, useful for students to understand why and how history happened. Furthermore, when such understanding is based on SD generic structures, other similar historical phenomena can be understood too. Thus, from this point of view, history is not seen anymore as a subject made of isolated events. Rather, it is seen as a subject that cross time and is related to different issues along human conditions. Relevance of history may be then understood by students. In this thesis, SD is evaluated as a tool for enhancing students’ understanding of history, precisely about revolutions. Experiments using the conventional and the SD as teaching methods have been carried out with high school Colombian students. Results show that the more fields approached with SD, the more enhanced students’ understanding about history is. Important assessment of SD as a tool to teach history is the main contribution of this thesis, which is worth to be considered as a building block in the construction of a history curriculum based on SD.