Electronic Theses and Dissertations



Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Instruction & Curriculum Leadership

Committee Chair

Laurie MacGillivray

Committee Member

Alison Happel-Parkins

Committee Member

Satomi Taylor

Committee Member

Kaye Reeves


The prevalence of systems thinking is growing in classrooms because of its inclusion in the Next Generation Science Standards and its potential as a tool for addressing complex, global problems (Capra & Luisi, 2014). While most of the research on systems thinking pedagogy targets the ways students develop system thinking skills (Cabrera & Cabrera, 2015; Curwen, Ardell, MacGillivray, & Lambert, 2018), this study explores teachers' construction of systems thinking as a pedagogy. Using social constructionism, discourse analysis, and systems theory, I conducted an exploratory case study to analyze how teachers privileged certain language and ways of knowing during a professional development institute on systems thinking. I found that the teachers considered systems thinking as a catalyst for shifting their thinking, curriculum, and classroom dynamics, including how they understood their roles as teachers, their instructional goals, how they could both personalize and deepen their curriculum, and the ways they could connect their classrooms to the community and the environment. Imperative to this shift was the implementation of systems mapping as the central activity of the pedagogy. Their model of systems thinking pedagogy respected both teachers and students as capable academics; additionally, it privileged a professional development culture of becoming in which the power of the collective was a point of leverage for teachers to disrupt what can be perceived as low expectations for their students and themselves as professionals.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to ProQuest