High School Students' Understanding of the Human Body System

Orit Ben-Zvi Assaraf, Jeff Dodick, Jaklin Tripto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


In this study, 120 tenth-grade students from 8 schools were examined to
determine the extent of their ability to perceive the human body as a system after
completing the first stage in their biology curriculum - “The human body, emphasizing
homeostasis”. The students’ systems thinking was analyzed according to the STH thinking
model, which roughly divides it into three main levels that are arranged “pyramid” style, in
an ascending order of difficulty: 1. Analysis of system components—the ability to identify
the components and processes existing in the human body system; 2. Synthesis of system
components—ability to identify dynamic relations within the system; 3. Implementation—
ability to generalize and identify patterns in the system, and to identify its hidden
dimensions. The students in this study proved largely incapable of achieving systems
thinking beyond the primary STH level of identifying components. An overwhelming
majority if their responses corresponded to this level of the STH model, further indicating a
pronounced favoring of structure over process, and of larger, macro elements over
microscopic ones.
Original languageEnglish GB
Pages (from-to)33-56
Number of pages24
JournalResearch in Science Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2013


  • Human body system
  • Systems thinking
  • High school


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