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Abstract Title: Confirming what we already know: Biases in students’ lab notes
Abstract: Significant shifts of students' framing of physics labs are needed as more institutions change the focus of labs from verifying physics content towards teaching students about the nature of science. In this study, we evaluated how students' intent to verify equations manifests as a confirmation bias affecting their behaviors in the first lab of the physics sequence. We found that about 30% of student groups (out of 92 groups at three institutions) recorded decisions associated with confirmation bias such as rejecting evidence that contradicts a model or manipulating equipment and data. A discussion at the end of the lab revealed the inadequacy of the model to explain high precision measurements. Preliminary analyses of subsequent labs showed no evidence of these biases. We claim that this experience prepares students to learn about the ethical conduct of research and helps shift their framing of labs away from verification towards authentic scientific modeling.
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster Presentation
Session Time: Poster Session I
Poster Number: A87
Contributed Paper Record: Contributed Paper Information
Contributed Paper Download: Download Contributed Paper

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Martin M Stein
Laboratory of Atomic and Solid State Physics, Cornell University, Ithaca 14853, New York
245 East Ave
Ithaca, NY 14853
Phone: 6072622938
Co-Author(s)
and Co-Presenter(s)
Emily M. Smith, Laboratory of Atomic and Solid State Physics, Cornell University, Ithaca 14853, New York
N.G. Holmes, Laboratory of Atomic and Solid State Physics, Cornell University, Ithaca 14853, New York