Proceedings of the 54th Annual Meeting of the ISSS - 2010, Waterloo, Canada, Proceedings of the 54th Meeting of the International Society for the Systems Sciences

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Designing a class to teach multi viewpoints

Seiko Shirasaka, Naohiko Kohtake


The Graduate School of System Design and Management of Keio University (Keio SDM) was established on April 1, 2008 to cultivate systemic thinkers who can lead in the development and operation of large-scale complex technological and social systems. One of the indispensable capabilities of system thinker is multi viewpoints. No system can be described from only one viewpoint. Complex technological system and social system have many stakeholders. To understand and satisfy stakeholder's requirements, the system thinkers have to have multi-viewpoints.

Our approach to cultivate persons who have multi-viewpoints through a class at KEIO SDM is to make good use of combination of individual work and group work. Our students in the Keio SDM are of all ages and come from a wide variety of backgrounds, including employees and officials (both young and experienced) from private public sectors. We also have recent graduates. Group works with different background can cultivate multi viewpoints as far as the students work seriously. The student motivation is also very important for this approach.

We designed the class, introduction to systems engineering, which is mandatory for all master degree students to realize the approach. We would like to have much time for group work, however, many students didn't have any background of system thinking nor systems engineering. In 2008, first year of KEIO SDM establishment, we taught its knowledge during the class, we didn't have enough time to have group work. Most of the class time, students had to sit and listen to our explanation. To improve the situation, we design the class to realize the multi viewpoints. As the results of our system design, we implemented the e-learning video for the class preparation and self and group consecutive work. The class operation is like follows; step1: learn the knowledge by e-learning at off-campus, step2: self work at on-campus during the class and step3: group work at on-campus during the class. The students had to watch the corresponding preparation video before the each class started. One or two 90min video was prepared for the each class preparation. As the results of this improvement, I had enough time for group work.
As we mentioned above, a student motivation is also very important to make group work effective. Our approach to make student motivation is to make students feel their growth through the class. Our method to realize this approach is to ask the same question both at the beginning of class and at the end of class. The students can feel their own differences between before and after class. When they can feel their own differences, they can feel their growth. This makes them participate actively in the group work by motivated
We did the questionnaires to the student at the end of each semester. According to that, the implementation of the class design works well. The combination of self work and group work makes the students feel the lesson easy. And the same question before and after lesson makes the students feel the lesson understandable and well ordered. However, there are two concerns. One concern is the time for the preparation. The students have to spend more time to prepare by watching e-learning to learn the knowledge of systems engineering. Because of this negative effect, even if the class feels more understandable, ordered well and easy to understand, the total evaluation does NOT become better. The other concern is the motivation. The same question before the lesson and after the lesson was implemented to make the students feel their growth and finally motivated. But the results of the questionnaire don't support this expectation

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