Interpreting experimental data: the views of upper secondary school and university science students
J. Ryder, J. Leach 2000 International Journal of Science Education 22(10), 1069-1084

In this paper we examine students’ views about the interpretation of experimental data within a specified science context. A written survey was completed by 731 science students drawn from upper secondary schools and universities in five European countries. An additional 19 upper secondary science students were interviewed individually after they had completed the survey. A minority of students emphasized the role of models in the interpretation of the data, despite the emphasis placed on theoretical models within the survey text. A substantial proportion of respondents focused on the quantity and quality of the data to be interpreted. Post-survey interviews showed that many students had difficulty in articulating a view concerning the role of theoretical models. Our data support previous studies, typically involving younger respondents, which have found that science students tend not to recognize the role of theoretical models in the interpretation of data.

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