Evaluation of Student Models on Current Socio-Scientific Topics Based on System Dynamics
This study aims to 1) enable primary school students to develop models that will help them understand and analyze a system, through a learning process based on system dynamics approach, 2) examine and evaluate students' models related to socio-scientific issues using certain criteria. The research method used is a case study. The study sample consists of 10 primary school students, grades seven and eight. Students were first informed about the theoretical background of system dynamics approach, and then some applications were conducted using sample scenarios to show how to model a system with the Stella program. This experimental study lasted one hour for 14 weeks. For the last 8 weeks, students chose one of the previously determined topics and worked on developing a model based on system dynamics using the Stella program. Recordings of the models students had developed and interviews conducted with them were analyzed based on five criteria (using the correct concepts in the model, determining and using the variables, determining the relationship between the variables, locating numerical parameters, and creating and interpreting graphs). In addition, semi-constructed interviews and records by the observing teacher were analyzed and evaluated in relation to the models students had developed. Analytical results revealed that students had difficulty in determining the stock and flow in a system, could not easily perceive the system as a whole, and were unable correctly to form a relationship among various aspects of the system. However, students' interest in the topics they were working on increased while developing the model.