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Student interpretations of uncertainty in classical and quantum mechanics experiments
written by Martin M. Stein, Courtney White, Gina Passante, and Natasha G. Holmes
Measurements in quantum mechanics are often taught in an abstract, theoretical context. Compared to what is known about student understanding of experimental data in classical mechanics, it is unclear how students think about measurement and uncertainty in the context of experimental data from quantum mechanical systems. In this paper, we tested how students interpret the variability in data from hypothetical experiments in classical and quantum mechanics. We conducted semi-structured interviews with 20 students who had taken quantum mechanics courses and analyzed to which sources they attribute variability in the data. We found that in the quantum mechanics context, most students interpret any variability in the data as irreducible and inherent to the theory. While acknowledging the influence of experimenter error, limited resolution of measurement equipment, and confounding variables (like air resistance) in classical mechanics, many students did not recognize the influence of such effects in quantum mechanics. Some students expressed the view that there are inherently fewer confounding variables in Quantum Mechanics and the equipment used is more precise. We derive tentative implications for instruction and propose further research to test the influence of framing on the responses to our interview protocol.
Physics Education Research Conference 2019
Part of the PER Conference series
Provo, UT: July 24-25, 2019
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Education - Basic Research
- Alternative Conceptions
- Cognition
General Physics
- Measurement/Units
= Error
Quantum Physics
- Foundations and Measurements
= Uncertainty Principles
- Upper Undergraduate
- Graduate/Professional
- Reference Material
= Research study
PER-Central Type Intended Users Ratings
- PER Literature
- Researchers
- Professional/Practitioners
- Educators
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Format:
application/pdf
Mirror:
http://dx.doi.org/10.1119/perc.20…
Access Rights:
Free access
License:
This material is released under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license. Further distribution of this work must maintain attribution to the published article's author(s), title, proceedings citation, and DOI.
Rights Holder:
American Association of Physics Teachers
DOI:
10.1119/perc.2019.pr.Stein
NSF Numbers:
1808945
1809183
Keyword:
PERC 2019
Record Creator:
Metadata instance created January 7, 2020 by Lyle Barbato
Record Updated:
January 11, 2020 by Bruce Mason
Last Update
when Cataloged:
January 8, 2020
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Record Link
AIP Format
M. Stein, C. White, G. Passante, and N. Holmes, presented at the Physics Education Research Conference 2019, Provo, UT, 2019, WWW Document, (https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=15307&DocID=5219).
AJP/PRST-PER
M. Stein, C. White, G. Passante, and N. Holmes, Student interpretations of uncertainty in classical and quantum mechanics experiments, presented at the Physics Education Research Conference 2019, Provo, UT, 2019, <https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=15307&DocID=5219>.
APA Format
Stein, M., White, C., Passante, G., & Holmes, N. (2019, July 24-25). Student interpretations of uncertainty in classical and quantum mechanics experiments. Paper presented at Physics Education Research Conference 2019, Provo, UT. Retrieved January 19, 2020, from https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=15307&DocID=5219
Chicago Format
Stein, M, C. White, G. Passante, and N. Holmes. "Student interpretations of uncertainty in classical and quantum mechanics experiments." Paper presented at the Physics Education Research Conference 2019, Provo, UT, July 24-25, 2019. https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=15307&DocID=5219 (accessed 19 January 2020).
MLA Format
Stein, Martin M., Courtney White, Gina Passante, and Natasha Holmes. "Student interpretations of uncertainty in classical and quantum mechanics experiments." Physics Education Research Conference 2019. Provo, UT: 2019. of PER Conference. 19 Jan. 2020 <https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=15307&DocID=5219>.
BibTeX Export Format
@inproceedings{ Author = "Martin M. Stein and Courtney White and Gina Passante and Natasha Holmes", Title = {Student interpretations of uncertainty in classical and quantum mechanics experiments}, BookTitle = {Physics Education Research Conference 2019}, Address = {Provo, UT}, Series = {PER Conference}, Month = {July 24-25}, Year = {2019} }
Refer Export Format

%A Martin M. Stein
%A Courtney White
%A Gina Passante
%A Natasha Holmes
%T Student interpretations of uncertainty in classical and quantum mechanics experiments
%S PER Conference
%D July 24-25 2019
%C Provo, UT
%U https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=15307&DocID=5219
%O Physics Education Research Conference 2019
%O July 24-25
%O application/pdf

EndNote Export Format

%0 Conference Proceedings
%A Stein, Martin M.
%A White, Courtney
%A Passante, Gina
%A Holmes, Natasha
%D July 24-25 2019
%T Student interpretations of uncertainty in classical and quantum mechanics experiments
%B Physics Education Research Conference 2019
%C Provo, UT
%S PER Conference
%8 July 24-25
%U https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=15307&DocID=5219


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