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ERIC Number: EJ1176390
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2018
Pages: 13
Abstractor: As Provided
ISBN: N/A
ISSN: EISSN-2469-9896
EISSN: N/A
Examining Students' Views about Validity of Experiments: From Introductory to Ph.D. Students
Hu, Dehui; Zwickl, Benjamin M.
Physical Review Physics Education Research, v14 n1 p010121-1-010121-13 Jan-Jun 2018
We investigated physics students' epistemological views on measurements and validity of experimental results. The roles of experiments in physics have been underemphasized in previous research on students' personal epistemology, and there is a need for a broader view of personal epistemology that incorporates experiments. An epistemological framework incorporating the structure, methodology, and validity of scientific knowledge guided the development of an open-ended survey. The survey was administered to students in algebra-based and calculus-based introductory physics courses, upper-division physics labs, and physics Ph.D. students. Within our sample, we identified several differences in students' ideas about validity and uncertainty in measurement. The majority of introductory students justified the validity of results through agreement with theory or with results from others. Alternatively, Ph.D. students frequently justified the validity of results based on the quality of the experimental process and repeatability of results. When asked about the role of uncertainty analysis, introductory students tended to focus on the representational roles (e.g., describing imperfections, data variability, and human mistakes). However, advanced students focused on the inferential roles of uncertainty analysis (e.g., quantifying reliability, making comparisons, and guiding refinements). The findings suggest that lab courses could emphasize a variety of approaches to establish validity, such as by valuing documentation of the experimental process when evaluating the quality of student work. In order to emphasize the role of uncertainty in an authentic way, labs could provide opportunities to iterate, make repeated comparisons, and make decisions based on those comparisons.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: National Science Foundation (NSF)
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: DUE1432301