Measurement uncertainty is a key concept in introductory physics lab courses. Research has demonstrated that students often struggle with grasping the concept and applying it to drawing conclusions from data. The study discussed here explores the utility of an activity to improve students’ ability to draw conclusions from measurement data. This activity uses the contrasting-cases approach, which has been shown to be effective at increasing learning. The utility of the activity was explored in five think-aloud student interviews. Thematic analysis results show that the activity allows students to consider a variety of features from the contrasting cases and critically examine the validity of their conclusions. This suggests that the activity can be implemented in class to promote productive discourse.

Being able to apply measurement uncertainty and draw data-driven conclusions is a key learning goal in introductory physics labs.1 Studies have examined student reasoning about measurement uncertainty from different perspectives....

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