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ERIC Number: EJ912896
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Nov
Pages: 3
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 15
ISSN: ISSN-0031-921X
Teaching Standard Deviation by Building from Student Invention
Day, James; Nakahara, Hiroko; Bonn, Doug
Physics Teacher, v48 n8 p546-548 Nov 2010
First-year physics laboratories are often driven by a mix of goals that includes the illustration or discovery of basic physics principles and a myriad of technical skills involving specific equipment, data analysis, and report writing. The sheer number of such goals seems guaranteed to produce cognitive overload, even when highly detailed "cookbook" instructions are given. Recent studies indicate that this approach leaves students with a poor conceptual understanding of one of the most important features of laboratory physics and of the real world of science, in general: the development of an understanding of the nature of measurement and its attendant uncertainty. While students might be able to reproduce certain technical manipulations of data, as novice thinkers they lack the mental scaffolding that allows an expert to organize and apply this knowledge. Our goal is to put novices on the path to expertise, so that they will be able to transfer their knowledge to novel situations.
American Association of Physics Teachers. One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740. Tel: 301-209-3300; Fax: 301-209-0845; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A