During the Changing Systems summit, the large group broke into four teams led by SSDL Fellows and returning college mentors. After getting to know each other, each team began a series of Group Model Building (GMB) activities to discuss school experiences. The purpose of these incremental systems thinking “scripts” are to identify the problem over time, find interconnections between variables, and discover the system structure producing the outcomes we see in our lives.

The simplified model (below) is a synthesis of each teams’s Causal Loop Diagram. This version is the result of further review and analysis after the summit by a team of program staff and fellows. 

Model Synthesis (click on image)

Reinforcing Loops:

R1 “Building school environment” – A positive school environment reduces behavior issues within a school, which reduces punishments. Reducing punishments increases attendance, which eventually brings more resources to the school. With more resources, the school can offer more opportunities and activities that are meaningful to students, which ultimately foster a positive school environment.

R2 “Effect of relationships” – When students and school staff have quality relationships, students feel heard and become involved in opportunities that are meaningful to them, which leads to building a better school environment. A better school environment fosters better student and staff relationships.

R3 “Representation” – Building a positive school environment reduces discrimination, which increases the diversity of staff and students, which encourages meaningful opportunities for students of all identifies.

R4 “Teacher quality” – Increasing the quality of teachers increases the quality of the curriculum, increasing the students’ motivation to learn and therefore their academic performance, which feeds back to increase the quality of teachers.

R5 “Peer Influence” – The more behavior issues or distractions there are in a school the more bullying there is, which decreases students’ motivation to learn and increases the number of behavior issues.

R6 “Diversity” – Discrimination within the school decreases diversity within both the staff and student body. Decreasing exposure to diversity increases discrimination.

Balancing Loops

B1 “Pressure to Succeed” – While motivation to learn increases academic performance, this can increase stress which can lead to mental health issues that decrease motivation to learn.