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Monday, March 1 • 12:15pm - 12:30pm
Talk Session 1: Feedback loops as a potential nexus for X-DBER investigation

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To establish a viable community of practice, X-DBER researchers need to identify and collaborate on avenues of research in which a cross-disciplinary approach can yield insights that would not arise from a single discipline. We propose that feedback loops (FLs) are one such area of research. Feedback loops are systems in which an initial action triggers a chain of influences that either amplifies or counteracts the initial action. FLs have explanatory, predictive, and solution-shaping power across multiple domains, including climate, ecology, epidemiology, physiology, marketing, sociology, and engineering. Our research suggests that reasoning about FLs in multiple disciplinary contexts helps build the general FL concept through the process of mutual alignment analogy more effectively than learning about a single FL in a single discipline. FL systems that span disciplinary boundaries can support interdisciplinary collaboration, insofar as what person A cares about is both the cause and the consequence of what person B cares about. FLs pose interesting cognitive challenges, requiring the reasoner to accept that causality can loop backward, even though time cannot. A collaborative, cross-disciplinary research push to understand how learners and experts comprehend and reason with feedback loops could help build a populace able to (a) recognize FLs when they encounter them in unfamiliar contexts, (b) deploy FL understanding to explain and anticipate behaviors of growth, decay or stability, and (c) leverage FLs in designing solutions to some of humanity’s knottiest problems. Please reach out to us if this is a research direction you would like to pursue.

avatar for Kim Kastens

Kim Kastens

Special Research Scientist, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University
I work in Geoscience Education Research.  My current work in is in systems thinking, in particular how do students understand and reason with feedback loops.  Other topics I have worked on in the past in include spatial thinking, communities of practice,  making meaning from data... Read More →

Monday March 1, 2021 12:15pm - 12:30pm CST