UMD PERG PhD Dissertations: Rebecca F. Lippmann
Students' Understanding of Measurement and Uncertainty in the Physics Laboratory: Social construction, underlying concepts, and quantitative analysis
Rebecca F. Lippmann, Doctor of Philosophy, 2003
Dissertation directed by: Professor Edward F. Redish, Department of Physics
For students to apply their everyday skills of argument and decision-making, they must be in a state of mind (a frame) where they consider these skills productive. The laboratory design should create an environment which encourages such a frame. We determine studentís frames through information reported by students in interviews and surveys and through analyzing studentsí behavior. We find that the time students spend sense-making in the SCL is five times more than in traditional labs. Students in both labs frequently evaluate their level of understanding but only in the SCL does that evaluation cause a change to more productive behavior.
We analyze lab videotapes to determine underlying concepts commonly used by students when gathering and analyzing data. Our final goal is for students to use these concepts to analyze data in an appropriate manner. We develop a multiple-choice survey which asks students to analyze data from a hypothetical lab context. With this survey we find more students using range to compare data sets after the SCL (from 12% before to 43% after).
For students to understand measurement and uncertainty, we argue that the laboratory must be designed to encourage students to be in a frame where they view resources used to argue and evaluate as appropriate, engage in productive behavior and monitor their behavior, use productive resources to build an understanding of the underlying concepts, and use those concepts to analyze data. We make use of interviews, surveys, and video data to study each of these requirements and to evaluate the SCL curriculum.
Body of thesis in PDF format.
Appendices to thesis in PDF format.
|Chapter 1||Introduction and Overview|
|Chapter 2||Review of Previous Research|
|Chapter 3||Context of Current Research|
|Chapter 4||Students' Response to the Laboratory|
|Chapter 5||Social Construction of an Understanding of Measurement and Uncertainty|
||Underlying Concepts for Understanding Measurement and Uncertainty|
||A Quantitative Study of Individualsí Understanding of Measurement and Uncertainty|
||Implications and Applications|
||Summary and Future Research|
|Appendix A||Laboratory Handouts|
|Appendix B||TA Handouts for the Scientific Community Lab|
|Appendix C||Laboratory Homework, Anonymous Survey, and Lab Quiz|
|Appendix D||Interview Protocols and Transcript Excerpts|
|Appendix E||Selected Behavior Mode Transcripts and Coding|
|Appendix F||Measurement Surveys|