Design research on systems thinking approach in veterinary education
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The purpose of this study was to investigate the application of a newly designed systems approach to the problem of students' lack of big-picture experience in the College of Veterinary Medicine. To determine whether students' performance on problem-solving for various scenarios improved after intervention , a design research methodology was adopted to develop a systems-approach teaching and learning environment. Three iterations were conducted, with improvements to the instructional approach following each of the first two iterations.
The results supported the hypothesis that instructional intervention led to modest but statistically significant increases in students' use of system thinking across the three experimental studies. However, the instructor indicated the need for faculty systems-approach training, whereas students tended to request hands-on practice to understand and retain systems thinking skills.
Furthermore, there was a significant improvement from pretest to posttest for the beef scenario, demonstrating transfer of systems thinking to a topic for which systems-approach instruction was not provided.
The qualitative data suggested that most students found systems thinking was beneficial for macro systems, such as food production, but not for micro systems such, as individual small-animal biological systems.