The goal of this project was to increase systems thinking sensibility through an educational module. The module is composed of four lessons, each considering different aspects on how humans influence, and are influenced by, systems every day. The modules were developed as part of the requirements to complete a two-term course at Oregon State University: Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering Capstone Senior Design. The project was conducted in collaboration with the Oregon State University’s Science and Math Investigative Learning Experiences (SMILE) Program. SMILE is a pre-college program at Oregon State University that helps lower-income, ethnic-minority, and educationally-underrepresented middle and high school students in rural Oregon pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math fields.
Rural Oregon teachers teach SMILE lessons to select middle and high school students in after-school clubs. Given the unique objectives and customers of SMILE, the module developed had to be:
The final educational module contains the following four lessons:
The effectiveness and efficacy of the module was partially validated following three validation methods: 1) SMILE program provided an approval of completion to validate module and lesson-based requirements, 2) Educator and student-based requirements were validated through a combination of lesson demonstrations, a systems thinking expert panel, and a teacher questionnaire, 3) fulfillment of the Capstone Senior Design Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering course.
The systems thinking educational module has been delivered to SMILE at the end of this project for distribution at Oregon’s middle and high-schools. The sponsor finalized and published the module for SMILE clubs to use. The SMILE program has been tasked with tracking module use and feedback over time to ensure continued project success. As future work, a revision of the current four lessons is required, in addition to the development of a fifth lesson focused on the systems thinking concept of perspectives, which could further achieve systems sensibility for SMILE teachers and students.
Our Focus: Integration of systems science into industrial and systems engineering; engineering of organization cultures; systemology; engineering management
Our Objective: To develop fundamental understanding of how to engineer and manage systemic change in organizations by combining engineering management, industrial engineering, and systems science. We work with Oregon’s industry, state agencies, the National Science Foundation, and other professional societies to determine systemic principles that guide the design, assimilation, and management of the systems engineering process, as well as continuous process improvement approaches such as Lean and Six Sigma.
Our Impcat: With over $2M in grant support we are making important contributions to Oregon Industry, state agencies and the NSF, we have produced over 50 peer reviewed publications and are active participants in the systems science, systems engineering, and engineering management communities.