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Student’s t as a new epistemological framework for teaching measurement and uncertainty

Tuesday, February 18, 2014 - 11:00
Natasha Holmes, PhD student, Dept of Physics, UBC
Seminar
Room 4192, Earth Sciences Building (2207 Main Mall)

Speaker's Page

Abstract:  Many introductory physics labs ask students to conduct experiments to see or experience physics concepts from class first hand. Students collect data from these experiments and are expected to analyze the data to make sense of the physics equations they've learned in class. In first year, however, many of the students have little to no background in statistics. In addition, they enter the first year lab with misconceptions about the nature of measurement, uncertainty, and variability. This provides significant limitations to engaging students with physics concepts and developing experimentation skills. In the first-year honours physics lab at UBC, we have removed the conceptual physics learning goals from the course and replaced them exclusively with goals for learning data analysis and measurement skills. This year in particular, we have introduced the Student's t-test to the course material as a way to engage students in meaningful reflection of their results and to promote iterative experimentation. This talk will present some of these learning goals and new teaching techniques, as well as evidence of students' improved skills over previous iterations of the lab.