The Emergence of Complexity Thinking and Its Influence on Educational Research


  • Bruna Nogueira University of Calgary


The fast-paced and ever-changing modern world is witnessing the onset of a novel era of teaching methods, which often combine elements of traditional approaches such as reductionism and holism while providing prospects for fresh discourse, ideas, and outlooks. This paper aims to explain how perspectives on how education is understood have changed throughout time until complexity thinking emerged in more recent decades (Jacobson & Wilensky, 2022; Morin, 1992, 2011). In pursuit of this goal, the main characteristics of reductionism, holism, and systemic thinking are discussed, as well as how such transformations in perspectives have influenced the emergence of complexity thinking. As explained by Davis et al. (2015), complexity thinking started to spread among educational researchers not as a way of superimposing previous theories, but to present new points of view and possibilities instead. Complexity thinking in education is innovative as it goes against previous beliefs that learning occurs in linear ways, meaning that it recognizes and deals with conflict, uncertainty, and disharmony in learning processes. According to Jacobson and Wilensky (2022), educational researchers should continue to explore innovative pedagogies and technologies that embrace complexity, bringing crucial contributions to theories of teaching and learning.

Author Biography

Bruna Nogueira, University of Calgary

Bruna Nogueira is a PhD student with SSHRC Doctoral Award and a research assistant at the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary. Bruna holds a Bachelor of Psychology and a Master's degree in Education and Digital Technologies. Her research interests include digital technologies for teaching and learning, teacher education, and contemporary learning theories.






Position Paper/Essai