Approaching complex problematic situations in teaching and learning management with soft systems thinking: a case study of using SSM in a Chinese college

Xiaoping Shen, Junkang Feng

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

Abstract

Higher education in China has moved into a popularized and internationalisation stage, which makes the management of Learning, Teaching and Assessment (LTA) challenging and sometimes problematic. However, research into its theory and practice is sparse and in demand. To make contributions to this field, we explore how we may approach (i.e., make sense and then improve) complex problematic situations in LTA management with soft systems thinking. Our investigation was carried out through Action Research (AR) at the Business College of the Beijing Union University
(BCBUU) China with our instantiation of Checkland’s FMA (Intellectual Framework, Methodology and Area of Concern) model of AR. The declared intellectual framework is comprised of three building blocks namely Weltanschauung (W), Transformation (T) and Environment (E). The W is the value orientation of Scientific Humanism to achieve Relationship-Maintaining, the T a basic pathway of merging internationalization and localization, and the E systemic consideration of environment. The methodology adopted is the Soft Systems Methodology (SSM), and the area of concern is the situation of LTA management at BCBUU. Through this substantial study we made sense of and improved the problematic situation and one tangible result is the development of a new model for LTA management
at BCBUU, which is composed of an articulated philosophy, a stable organisational structure and a set of procedures and regulations. We learn lessons through this study. It is found that AR grounded on soft systems thinking provides LTA managers with an innovative and fundamental approach to
appreciate otherwise seemingly unapproachable and unmanageable complex and ill-structured problem situations that they face. It is also proven that our particular instantiation of the general FMA model for AR in the context of LTA management in a Chinese university college is practically effective and may be seen as substantiation of it. Furthermore, it is found out that merging internationalization and localization following a theory-to-practice track for LTA management transformation can achieve a great deal. All these have general implications for LTA management in Chinese higher education especially for LTA managers who are interested in using an insightful and effective methodology for making sense of problematic situations and for introducing changes to improve them. The validity of the findings of this work is justified by Checkland and Holwell’s notion of ‘recoverability’ of an action research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages48-48
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 11 Sep 2017
Event28th Annual IIMA (International Information Management Association) and 4th ICITED (International Conference on Information
Technology and Economic Development): Smart Systems for Complex Problems
- University of the West of Scotland, Paisley, United Kingdom
Duration: 11 Sep 201713 Sep 2017
http://iima.org/wp/28th-conference-11-13-sept-2017-paisley-scotland-uk/ (Conference website)

Conference

Conference28th Annual IIMA (International Information Management Association) and 4th ICITED (International Conference on Information
Technology and Economic Development)
CountryUnited Kingdom
CityPaisley
Period11/09/1713/09/17
Internet address

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Keywords

  • Soft Systems Thinking
  • Soft Systems Methodology
  • Learning & Teaching Management
  • Complex Problematic Situations

Cite this

Shen, X., & Feng, J. (2017). Approaching complex problematic situations in teaching and learning management with soft systems thinking: a case study of using SSM in a Chinese college. 48-48. Paper presented at 28th Annual IIMA (International Information Management Association) and 4th ICITED (International Conference on Information
Technology and Economic Development), Paisley, United Kingdom.
Shen, Xiaoping ; Feng, Junkang. / Approaching complex problematic situations in teaching and learning management with soft systems thinking : a case study of using SSM in a Chinese college. Paper presented at 28th Annual IIMA (International Information Management Association) and 4th ICITED (International Conference on Information
Technology and Economic Development), Paisley, United Kingdom.1 p.
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Shen, X & Feng, J 2017, 'Approaching complex problematic situations in teaching and learning management with soft systems thinking: a case study of using SSM in a Chinese college' Paper presented at 28th Annual IIMA (International Information Management Association) and 4th ICITED (International Conference on Information
Technology and Economic Development), Paisley, United Kingdom, 11/09/17 - 13/09/17, pp. 48-48.

Approaching complex problematic situations in teaching and learning management with soft systems thinking : a case study of using SSM in a Chinese college. / Shen, Xiaoping; Feng, Junkang.

2017. 48-48 Paper presented at 28th Annual IIMA (International Information Management Association) and 4th ICITED (International Conference on Information
Technology and Economic Development), Paisley, United Kingdom.

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

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Shen X, Feng J. Approaching complex problematic situations in teaching and learning management with soft systems thinking: a case study of using SSM in a Chinese college. 2017. Paper presented at 28th Annual IIMA (International Information Management Association) and 4th ICITED (International Conference on Information
Technology and Economic Development), Paisley, United Kingdom.