Assessing pre-service science teachers’ systems thinking skills using real life scenarios

Öztaş, Melike
The main purpose of this study is to investigate pre-service science teachers’ systems thinking skills with using a real-life scenario as an assessment tool. The nine systems thinking skills defined in this research were discussed in terms of sustainable development. Participants were expected to comprehend integrated nature of environmental, economic and social aspects of this concept in a systemic perspective. Therefore, the real-life scenario used for assessment was selected related with sustainable development. Data collection procedure was conducted with six senior pre-service teachers from the elementary science education department of a public university in Turkey. Their interpretations on the real-life scenario were acquired through semi-structured interviews. Data obtained from each participant was discussed separately in this multiple case study. Interviews were analyzed by using the rubric developed for systems thinking skills discussed in the present research. This study intended to provide an insight for assessment of systems thinking skills and to inspire educators interested in sustainable development. Findings showed that participants’ systems thinking levels were changing in a nonhierarchical order and connected with the personal experiences. Additionally, it was observed that real life scenarios provide an in-depth information to participants for discussion. Moreover, it was noticed that there is a weak conception about sustainable development among the participants. While commenting on the scenario, environmental aspect was emphasized more than the other two aspects of sustainable development. In general, this study revealed that real-life scenarios are effective tools in assessment of systems thinking skills.