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ERIC Number: EJ1111963
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015-Dec
Pages: 8
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-1449-6313
Thinking Scientifically: Understanding Measurement and Errors
Alagumalai, Sivakumar
Teaching Science, v61 n4 p24-31 Dec 2015
Thinking scientifically consists of systematic observation, experiment, measurement, and the testing and modification of research questions. In effect, science is about measurement and the understanding of causation. Measurement is an integral part of science and engineering, and has pertinent implications for the human sciences. No measurement is 100% accurate as all measurements have inherent errors and uncertainties which must be reduced by first their recognition, then the improvement of techniques and ideas, and then finally evaluated to establish the validity of the results. However, a growing body of evidence suggests that students design and perform experiments without a clear understanding of measurement and errors. This disjuncture between levels of understanding and the ability to apply the formal aspects of data error analysis is well reported in a number of studies. Reports indicate that students tend to use computational methods with little or no understanding of the accuracy and precision needed when undertaking an experiment, analysing experimental datasets and estimating the associated errors. Therefore, an important area of research in this area is what prospective science teachers know and understand about errors and uncertainties in science. A study was undertaken to examine the knowledge and understanding of measurement error possessed by science education students with specialisations in biology, chemistry and physics. This article reports the pilot study undertaken to examine procedural understanding of measurement and errors. Implications for science education at the pre-service teacher education levels are discussed with recommendations for integrating thinking scientifically into associated curriculum and methodology courses.
Australian Science Teachers Association. P.O. Box 334, Deakin West, ACT 2600, Australia. Tel: +61-02-6282-9377; Fax: +61-02-6282-9477; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A