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ERIC Number: EJ917911
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Apr
Pages: 21
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0263-5143
Theory-Led Confirmation Bias and Experimental Persona
Allen, Michael
Research in Science & Technological Education, v29 n1 p107-127 Apr 2011
Questionnaire and interview findings from a survey of three Year 8 (ages 12-13 years) science practical lessons (n = 52) demonstrate how pupils' data collection and inference making were sometimes biased by desires to confirm a personal theory. A variety of behaviours are described where learners knowingly rejected anomalies, manipulated apparatus, invented results or carried out other improper operations to either collect data which they believed were scientifically correct, or achieve social conformity. It is proposed that confirmation bias was a consequence of the degree to which individuals were laden by theory, and driven by this, experimenters assumed one of three different personas: becoming right answer confirmers; good scientists; or indifferent spectators. These personas have parallels with historical instances of scientific behaviour. Implications of a continued teacher-tolerance of pupil confirmation bias include the promotion of unscientific experimenting, and the persistence of unchallenged science misconceptions. Solutions are offered in the way of practical strategies that might reduce experimenters' theory-ladeness. (Contains 5 notes, 2 tables, and 3 figures.)
Routledge. Available from: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. 325 Chestnut Street Suite 800, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Tel: 800-354-1420; Fax: 215-625-2940; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Middle Schools; Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United Kingdom (England)