An atom is known by the company it keeps: Content, representation andpedagogy within the epistemic revolution of the complexity sciencesPaulo Blikstein
The goal of this dissertation is to explore relations between content, representation, and peda-gogy, so as to understand the impact of the nascent field of complexity sciences on science, tech-nology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) learning. Wilensky & Papert coined the term“structurations” to express the relationship between knowledge and its representational infra-structure. A change from one representational infrastructure to another they call a “restructura-tion.” The complexity sciences have introduced a novel and powerful structuration:
agent- based modeling.
In contradistinction to traditional mathematical modeling, which relies onequational descriptions of macroscopic properties of systems, agent-based modeling focuses ona few archetypical micro-behaviors of “agents” to explain emergent macro-behaviors of the agentcollective.Specifically, this dissertation is about a series of studies of undergraduate students’ learning of materials science, in which two structurations are compared (equational and agent-based), con-sisting of both design research and empirical evaluation. I have designed
a con-structionist suite of computer models, supporting materials and learning activities designed within the approach of agent-based modeling, and over four years conducted an empirical inves-