Developing a Measure of Systems Thinking Competency
Grohs, Jacob Richard
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Institutions of higher education often promise to graduate individuals capable not only of excelling in their area of expertise but also qualified as exceptional leaders and citizens. Yet, what are the competencies needed from leaders in order to address the most challenging issues facing society? How would higher education cultivate the next generation of leaders for a world of problems we currently cannot solve, and how would it be determined if some graduates were 'more prepared' than others to face these challenges? This dissertation seeks to answer these questions through the work of two distinct manuscripts. The first argues that human processes for meaning-making play critical formative roles in the setting and solving of our most complex problems. In essence, that problem-solving can be considered as embodied acts of meaning-making. This link is made through analysis of Bruner's concept of narrative and highlights the importance played by naming and framing through one's unique perspective while attempting to interpret an ill-structured problem. The second manuscript develops a tool to measure 'systems thinking,' a competency that describes the sort of cognitive flexibility that might be beneficial for graduates to be emerging leaders capable of addressing critical societal issues. A framework for considering systems thinking competency is presented and used as the foundation of a scenario-based assessment tool. Results from a qualitative pilot study are shown as part of introducing the tool with primary findings: (a) the tool elicited meaningful data on each of the constructs for which it was designed; (b) emergent within each construct were possible means of characterizing the data that will allow for future study of variation across respondents.
- Doctoral Dissertations