Students’ Systems Thinking Competency Level Detection through Software Cost Estimation Concept Modeling

J. R. Aguilar-Cisneros, R. Valerdi, B. P. Sullivan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Abstract: Systems Thinking Competencies have become extremely important and widely studied due to increasing complexity of technical and societal systems. Because of this, when they are taught, it is extremely useful to identify whether or not students demonstrate Systems Thinking Competencies so that effective teaching strategies can be designed. Through the use of the Adapted Holistic Scoring Method we seek to assess Concept Maps developed by postgraduate and undergraduate engineering students in order to determine their knowledge of Systems Thinking Competencies. Firstly, their background in cost estimation drivers was identified, and secondly, their Systems Thinking Competence proficiency level. We assessed how a short cost estimation training improved specific Systems Thinking Competencies. This research contributes to the body of knowledge because it provides empirical evidence on systems thinking competencies among engineering students in the context of cost estimation. The research was organized in two phases. First, Students demonstrated knowledge of cost estimation drivers, and were asked about specific levels of Systems Thinking Competencies. Second, after students were taught systems thinking competencies, their knowledge of the connection between cost drivers and Systems Thinking Competencies was obtained. A Mann-Whitney U-test was applied in order to identify if there were significant differences between Phase 1 and Phase 2 in both Estimation Cost Drivers included and Systems Thinking Competence Level Demonstrated Results show improvement in a specific Systems Thinking competency – ability to see relationships – among the student population studied (N = 45).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)499-512
Number of pages14
JournalProgramming and Computer Software
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software


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