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2010 Summer Meeting

2011 AAPT Summer Meeting
July 30-August 3, 2011
Omaha, Nebraska

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AC01:

Diagnosing Student Understanding of Data Analysis Techniques
  Location: SS Ballroom DE
  Date: Monday, Aug.1
  Time: 8:00 AM -8:30 AM
  Author: Ross Galloway, University of Edinburgh
+44 (0)131 650 8614, ross.galloway@ed.ac.uk
  Co-Author(s): Simon P. Bates , Helen E Maynard-Casely , Katherine A Slaughter , Hilary Singer
  Abstract: Physicists acquire data from a multitude of sources, ranging from their own experimental equipment or numerical simulations to the outputs of large experimental collaborations. However, the mere acquisition of this data is not enough: it is essential to know how to analyse and interpret it once it has been gathered. We expect that physics degrees will equip our students with the necessary analysis skills, but do they? We have formulated a diagnostic test of data-handling skills, and have deployed it in a number of universities across the UK and Ireland. Our findings suggest that student abilities in data handling are not being strongly developed by typical laboratory instruction, and that explicit tuition of the required techniques is needed. Furthermore, we find that part of the problem may be that the graduate teaching assistants we rely on may themselves not possess fully developed skills in this area.
  Footnotes: None
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