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25 - Complex Systems and the Learning Sciences

Educational, Theoretical, and Methodological Implications

from Part V - Learning Disciplinary Knowledge

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 March 2022

R. Keith Sawyer
Affiliation:
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
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Summary

A complex system is composed of many elements that interact with each other and their environment. The term emergence is used to describe how the large-scale features of the complex system arise from interactions between the components, and these system-level features are called emergent phenomena. This chapter reviews the multidisciplinary study of complex systems in physics, biology, and social sciences. This chapter reviews three topics: first, research on how people learn how to think about complex systems; second, how learning environments themselves can be analyzed as complex systems; and finally, how the analytic methods of complexity science – such as computer modeling – can be applied to the learning sciences. The chapter summarizes challenges and future opportunities for helping students learn about complex systems and for research in the learning sciences that considers educational systems to be complex phenomena.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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