Dynamic modeling of a teaching/learning system to aid system re-engineering

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Eftekhar, Nassereddin
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This study investigates how to model a teaching/learning system for subject matter taught to engineering students, and how to use the model to predict and improve the consequences of changes to the inputs, the process, and the outputs of the system. The model is based on a system dynamics approach supported by Systems Thinking and soft Operation Research techniques. It takes into consideration the interaction between three major sets of components in the system: (1) the learner's learning abilities and motivation, (2) the teaching system's characteristics, and (3) the nature and types of the subject matter. Through investigation for a dynamic model of a teaching/learning system, the research discovers a dimension that takes into account all of the other dimensions that are involved in a teaching/learning system. This dimension is a new concept, related to the thinking process, that has not been discussed before and is particularly important in technical learning. It is the form-function dimension. Based on this concept, the research identifies two distinctive types of learners: form oriented and function oriented. The form learner is mainly interested in the information as it is presented. The function learner is interested in the new information in terms of cause-effect relationships. The other parts of the endeavor show the consequences of this concept. The results from the simulations of a teaching/learning system based on the form-function approach, provide considerable insight into the operation f educational systems. The research can help educational decision-makers and educators select performance parameters that will optimize a given strategy. The effect of system configuration on the performance of a teaching/learning system may be used to influence the design of the system before the planning stage is implemented. This information can be critical in developing an efficient and effective system for engineering students as well as engineering educators.