On the embedded complementarity of agent-based and aggregate reasoning in students' developing understanding of dynamic systems

Walter M. Stroup*, Uri Wilensky

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations

Abstract

Placed in the larger context of broadening the engagement with systems dynamics and complexity theory in school-aged learning and teaching, this paper is intended to introduce, situate, and illustrate - with results from the use of network supported participatory simulations in classrooms - a stance we call 'embedded complementarity' as an account of the relations between two major forms of systems-related learning and reasoning. The two forms of systems reasoning discussed are called 'aggregate' and 'agent-based.' These forms of reasoning are presented as distinct yet we also outline how there are forms of complementarity, between and within these approaches, useful in analyzing complex dynamic systems. We then explore specific ways in which the embedded complementarity stance can be used to analyze how learner understandings progress in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics-related participatory simulations supported by the HubNet (Wilensky and Stroup 1999c) learning environment developed with support from the National Science Foundation. We found that the learners used and built on the interdependence of agent and aggregate forms of reasoning in ways consistent with the discussion of embedded complementarity outlined in the early parts of the paper.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19-52
Number of pages34
JournalTechnology, Knowledge and Learning
Volume19
Issue number1-2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2014

Keywords

  • Agent-based modeling
  • Aggregate modeling
  • Complexity theory
  • Dynamic systems
  • HubNet
  • NetLogo
  • Participatory simulations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mathematics (miscellaneous)
  • Education
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Science Applications

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