Can people learn behaviours of stock and flow using their ability to calculate running total? An experimental study
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Stock and flow is basis of dynamics. Understanding of stock and flow is crucial in comprehending and managing problems such as global warming and national debt. Yet previous experimental studies discovered that people performed poorly in simple stock-flow tasks. However, many do have notion of accumulation in terms of calculating running total. Here a pre-test-treatment-post-test experiment was designed to test the hypothesis that people's understanding of stock and flow behaviours will improve after asking them to verify their expected behaviour using running total calculation and reflect if their expected behaviour was wrong. Comparisons with conventional approach to teach stock and flow dynamics and without teaching were also done, to my knowledge, the first time in controlled experiment. Results show that improvement is not significant; the hypothesis lacks support. On the other hand, conventional approach obtains significant improvement. Possible explanations of the results and their implications for education on dynamics, communication of complex dynamic problems and policy insights are discussed.