Dissertation Defense Announcement

College of Education announces the Final Dissertation Defense of

Gretchen Goode

for the Degree of Doctor of Education

May 20, 2019 at 10:00 AM in Ball Hall, Room 405

Advisor: Laurie MacGillivray

Teachers' Construction of Systems Thinking Pedagogy During a Professional Development Institute

ABSTRACT: The prevalence of systems thinking is growing in classrooms because of its inclusion in the Next Generation Science Standards and its potential as a tool for addressing complex, global problems (Cabrera & Cabrera, 2015; Capra & Luisi, 2014). While most of the research on systems thinking targets the ways students develop system thinking skills (Cabrera & Cabrera, 2015; Curwen, Ardell, MacGillivray, & Lambert, 2018), this study explores teachers' construction of systems thinking as a pedagogy. Using social constructionism, discourse analysis, and systems theory, I conducted an exploratory case study to analyze how teachers privileged certain language and ways of knowing during a professional development institute on systems thinking. I found that the teachers considered systems thinking as a catalyst for shifting their thinking, curriculum, and classroom dynamics, including how they understood their roles as teachers, their instructional goals, how they could both personalize and deepen their curriculum, and the ways they could connect their classrooms to the community and the environment. Imperative to this shift was the implementation of systems mapping as the central activity of the pedagogy. Their model of systems thinking pedagogy respected both teachers and students as capable academics; additionally, it privileged a professional development culture of "becoming" in which the power of the collective was a point of leverage for teachers to disrupt what can be perceived as low expectations for their students and for themselves as professionals.