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Evaluation of Student Understanding of Uncertainty in Level 1 Undergraduate Physics Laboratories

Petts, Philippa L. and Swift, G. Peter and Nightingale, Samuel C. (2021) 'Evaluation of Student Understanding of Uncertainty in Level 1 Undergraduate Physics Laboratories.', in 10th International Conference New Perspectives in Science Education. , pp. 413-419.


n recent years, work has been undertaken at Durham University to investigate how student understanding of uncertainty in experimental measurements changed throughout the course of the instruction they had during their first year of undergraduate laboratories. Measurement uncertainty can be thought of as a threshold concept, which students need to pass through before they gain a full understanding of both measurements and uncertainties, allowing them to transition from the point to the set paradigm. Students were surveyed both pre and post instruction to see how their understanding had developed and deepened throughout the course of the year of study. A particular focus was placed on assessing student understanding of repeat measurements, and the agreement of measurements. Following the period of instruction, the sophistication of answers provided by students to the survey, showed a statistically significant improvement as measured by an optimal pooled t-test, as the survey responses consisted of a mixture of both unpaired and paired data. However, misconceptions still remained, particularly when looking at students’ understanding of repeat measurements.

Item Type:Book chapter
Full text:Publisher-imposed embargo
(VoR) Version of Record
File format - PDF
Publisher Web site:
Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:06 October 2021
Date of first online publication:2021
Date first made open access:No date available

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