Complex Systems Approaches to Educational Research: Introduction to the Special Issue

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

The Journal of Experimental Education

First page number:


Last page number:



To explore the movement toward increased complex systems (CS) research in education, this special issue of the Journal of Experimental Education was developed to identify some under-examined places where CS approaches have advanced research. The articles provide empirical examples of research leveraging methods and analyses from complexity science. In this introduction article to the special issue, we discuss the authors' contributions to defining and explicating concepts and methods that fall under the umbrella of CS perspectives and how these methods were used to investigate complex processes in their topics of study. The articles capture the goal of the special issue to demonstrate how the research questions framed by CS assumptions can change our expectations about the very nature of the processes under study in education. We then take a more global perspective and acknowledge the commonalities amongst the papers, including (a) the reliance on intensive data to answer research questions, and (b) the use of dynamic approaches that yield findings about the stability and change of these systems and phenomena.


Complex Systems; Research Methods; Social Context; Special Issue; Study Design


Education | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research



UNLV article access

Search your library