Systems Thinking is a holistic process to solving problems. It is about looking at the system as a whole rather than as separate parts. It’s about seeing the bigger picture, it’s about understanding that problems cannot simply be solved through a linear process, and that there are a number of variables to consider when solving problems or creating solutions.

With systems thinking one considers all the inter-related components within a system and their relationships and interactions.

Why is Systems Thinking an important skill for students?

This thinking skill can help students understand the situation or the context better to find better solutions.

What are examples of systems already familiar to students?

There are many examples of systems already studied by students such as food systems, water cycles and waste management systems.

What are the many strategies to help support systems thinking?

Strategies employed will depend on the questions students are trying to solve and can be used as a way to research a problem.

For example:

Mind maps or cluster graphs – they can be used to identify a number of factors or components for consideration for example when exploring human impact issues on local parks.

Changes over time graphs – can be used to track quantity of some form over time, for example, to track emotions over a week or if technology has gone more cheaper or more expensive over time.

Feedback loops – are used to explore output from one component and it’s influence on another, for example, to answer the question of how does technology impact on people’s health?

Causal Maps – it is similar to mind maps, and it is used to identify the causal links between various trends or components, for example, the school system.

Systems Thinking is an excellent way to have students consider the broader picture and can be combined with other thinking skills such as design thinking and computational thinking.

*[Source: CSER – Introduction to Fundamental Thinking Skills]