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Mapping the dynamics of change: A complexity theory analysis of innovation in five Vermont high schools

By David Gibson


This study of innovation in five Vermont high schools creates new cross case operational computer models of the leadership and policy issues involved in systemic change, using STELLA, a systems thinking software. Complexity theory and systems dynamics modeling concepts such as causal loop diagramming, boundary conditions, selfreinforcing processes, nonlinear dynamical equations, state space, dissipation, and types of temporal organization are used to discuss the behavior of the models using illustrations and data from real world case studies. The study provides grounded examples of complexity theory analysis facilitated by visual models mapped to nonlinear dynamical equations. As a result, the study offers a new explanation of innovations in high schools that involves dynamical maps of five sectors of systemic change: state policy, district initiatives, school adaptations, teacher learning, and the student experience. The maps provide new visual and mathematical generalizations of some of the key variables of innovation presented in time-based relationships with each other. The models, which reinterpret and quantify traditiona

Year: 1999
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