EXPLICIT FOCUS ON SYSTEMS THINKING IN INTEGRATE MATERIALS YIELDS IMPROVED STUDENT PERFORMANCE
We sought to determine if the InTeGrate materials were successfully applied to teach systems approaches using a common essay prompt. Participating students were asked to define a system, explain how the system works, and address the impact of multiple causal factors on one part of the system. We scored essays written by 533 students in 57 undergraduate classes, to assess students’ systems thinking ability. The students also completed a second essay on an interdisciplinary topic, a geoscience literacy exam (GLE), and responded to a demographic and attitudinal survey. The sample population were selected from among the larger InTeGrate student data (n>6,000). We compared our treatment population who were enrolled in courses using InTeGrate materials to a similar group of students taking a course that did not use InTeGrate materials. Both treatment and control groups had equivalent GLE and interdisciplinary essay scores and similar demographic characteristics. However, students in the treatment group scored significantly higher than the students in control group on the systems thinking essay question.