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Complex Systems in Education: Scientific and Educational Importance and Implications for the Learning Sciences


Journal of the Learning Sciences Volume 15, Number 1, ISSN 1050-8406


The multidisciplinary study of complex systems in the physical and social sciences over the past quarter of a century has led to the articulation of important new conceptual perspectives and methodologies that are of value both to researchers in these fields as well as to professionals, policymakers, and citizens who must deal with challenging social and global problems in the 21st century. The main goals of this article are to (a) argue for the importance of learning these ideas at the precollege and college levels; (b) discuss the significant challenges inherent in learning complex systems knowledge from the standpoint of learning sciences theory and research; (c) discuss the "learnability issue" of complex systems conceptual perspectives and review a body of literature that has been exploring how learning sciences pedagogical approaches can lead to student learning of important dimensions of complex systems knowledge; (d) argue that the cognitive and sociocultural factors related to learning complex systems knowledge are relevant and challenging areas for learning sciences research; and (e) consider ways that concepts and methodologies from the study of complex systems raise important issues of theoretical and methodological centrality in the field of the learning sciences itself.


Jacobson, M.J. & Wilensky, U. (2006). Complex Systems in Education: Scientific and Educational Importance and Implications for the Learning Sciences. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 15(1), 11-34. Retrieved July 21, 2019 from .

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