Document Type

Article

Publication Date

Fall 9-2014

Publication Source

The Physics Teacher

Volume

52

Issue

6

Inclusive pages

364 - 366

DOI

10.1119/1.4893093

Abstract

Helping students develop an understanding of how to interpret experimental data trends is an important part of the introductory physics laboratory. Unfortunately, many of my colleagues have lamented that too many of their students do this poorly. This is a common refrain, and past research has already revealed student difficulties with measurement, uncertainty, and the overall meaning of data.1–3 Like many instructors, I prefer discovery-style labs and in many laboratory investigations students are asked to use curve-fitting tools to discover a relationship.4 But one day in lab, I began to wonder if students were looking at data and curve fitting in a way profoundly different than scientists. Research already indicates significant differences,5,6 but to get a clearer understanding of how students would treat general data, a hypothetical set of data using fictional parameters (plumbdads and quarkles) was given to first day students.

Disciplines

Other Physics | Physics | Science and Mathematics Education

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