Nonlinear Dynamics, Psychology, and Life Sciences, Vol. 17, Iss. 2, April, 2013, pp. 233-267
@2013 Society for Chaos Theory in Psychology & Life Sciences


The Emergence of Learning-Teaching Trajectories in Education: a Complex Dynamic Systems Approach

Henderien Steenbeek, University of Groningen, the Netherlands
Paul van Geert, University of Groningen, the Netherlands

Abstract: In this article we shall focus on learning-teaching trajectories =”successful” as well as ”unsuccessful” ones - as emergent and dynamic phenomena resulting from the interactions in the entire educational context, in particular the interaction between students and teachers viewed as processes of intertwining self-, other- and co-regulation. The article provides a review of the educational research literature on action regulation in learning and teaching, and interprets this literature in light of the theory of complex dynamic systems. Based on this reinterpretation of the literature, two dynamic models are proposed, one focusing on the short-term dynamics of learning-teaching interactions as they take place in classrooms, the other focusing on the long-term dynamics of interactions in a network of variables encompassing concerns, evaluations, actions and action effects (such as learning) students and teachers. The aim of presenting these models is to demonstrate, first, the possibility of transforming existing educational theory into dynamic models and, second, to provide some suggestions as to how such models can be used to further educational theory and practice.

Keywords: education, learning, complex adaptive system, computational modeling