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Physical Review Physics Education Research
written by Luke D. Conlin, Eric Kuo, and Nicole R. Hallinen
[This paper is part of the Focused Collection on Quantitative Methods in PER: A Critical Examination.] A central aim of physics education research is to understand the processes of learning and use that understanding to inform instruction. To this end, researchers often conduct studies to measure the effect of classroom interventions on student outcomes. Many of these intervention studies have provided an empirical foundation of reformed teaching techniques, such as active engagement. However, many times there is not sufficient evidence to conclude that the intervention had the intended effect, and these null results often end up in the proverbial file drawer. In this paper, we argue that null results can make significant contributions to physics education research, even if the results are not statistically significant. First, we review social science and biomedical research that documents widespread publication bias against null results, exploring why it occurs and how it can hurt the field. We then present three cases from physics education research to highlight how studies that yield null results can contribute to our understanding of teaching and learning. Finally, we distill from these studies some general principles for learning from null results, proposing that we should evaluate them not on whether they reject the null hypothesis but according to their potential for generating new understanding.
Physical Review Physics Education Research: Volume 15, Issue 2, Pages 020104
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Education Foundations
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= Evaluation
= Statistics
General Physics
- Philosophy
- Physics Education Research
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Access Rights:
Free access
License:
This material is released under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license.
Rights Holder:
American Physical Society
DOI:
10.1103/PhysRevPhysEducRes.15.020104
NSF Number:
DRK12-09-602
Keywords:
epistemology, publication bias
Record Creator:
Metadata instance created August 23, 2019 by Sam McKagan
Record Updated:
December 18, 2023 by Caroline Hall
Last Update
when Cataloged:
July 3, 2019
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AIP Format
L. Conlin, E. Kuo, and N. Hallinen, , Phys. Rev. Phys. Educ. Res. 15 (2), 020104 (2019), WWW Document, (https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevPhysEducRes.15.020104).
AJP/PRST-PER
L. Conlin, E. Kuo, and N. Hallinen, How null results can be significant for physics education research, Phys. Rev. Phys. Educ. Res. 15 (2), 020104 (2019), <https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevPhysEducRes.15.020104>.
APA Format
Conlin, L., Kuo, E., & Hallinen, N. (2019, July 3). How null results can be significant for physics education research. Phys. Rev. Phys. Educ. Res., 15(2), 020104. Retrieved March 1, 2024, from https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevPhysEducRes.15.020104
Chicago Format
Conlin, L, E. Kuo, and N. Hallinen. "How null results can be significant for physics education research." Phys. Rev. Phys. Educ. Res. 15, no. 2, (July 3, 2019): 020104, https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevPhysEducRes.15.020104 (accessed 1 March 2024).
MLA Format
Conlin, Luke, Eric Kuo, and Nicole Hallinen. "How null results can be significant for physics education research." Phys. Rev. Phys. Educ. Res. 15.2 (2019): 020104. 1 Mar. 2024 <https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevPhysEducRes.15.020104>.
BibTeX Export Format
@article{ Author = "Luke Conlin and Eric Kuo and Nicole Hallinen", Title = {How null results can be significant for physics education research}, Journal = {Phys. Rev. Phys. Educ. Res.}, Volume = {15}, Number = {2}, Pages = {020104}, Month = {July}, Year = {2019} }
Refer Export Format

%A Luke Conlin %A Eric Kuo %A Nicole Hallinen %T How null results can be significant for physics education research %J Phys. Rev. Phys. Educ. Res. %V 15 %N 2 %D July 3, 2019 %P 020104 %U https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevPhysEducRes.15.020104 %O application/pdf

EndNote Export Format

%0 Journal Article %A Conlin, Luke %A Kuo, Eric %A Hallinen, Nicole %D July 3, 2019 %T How null results can be significant for physics education research %J Phys. Rev. Phys. Educ. Res. %V 15 %N 2 %P 020104 %8 July 3, 2019 %U https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevPhysEducRes.15.020104


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