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Durham e-Theses
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An Exploratory Study of Pre-service Primary Teachers’
Understanding of Uncertainty in Measurements in Singapore

K-S-MOORTHY, MD,SHAHRIN (2015) An Exploratory Study of Pre-service Primary Teachers’
Understanding of Uncertainty in Measurements in Singapore.
Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

PDF - Accepted Version


This study was set in the context of a reform agenda for Singapore’s science curriculum to adopt inquiry in teaching and learning science (MOE, 2008). Teachers, including pre-service primary teachers (PSTs) who were subjects of this study, are expected to engage their students with scientific evidence including measurements taken during science investigations. The inherent nature of measurements is that they are always affected by errors that caused uncertainty. Understanding this, as well as other procedural ideas underpinning uncertainty would be important for understanding evidence before looking at data that are subjected to uncertainties in measurements. Such understandings would be important for the PSTs when they teach their future students how to obtain valid and reliable data, and to evaluate the methods of investigation or scientific conclusions based on evidence.
This study, therefore, was aimed at exploring such understandings using the Concepts of Evidence (Gott, Duggan, and Roberts, 2008) as a theoretical framework. The lack of a research instrument customised to such a need motivated this study to develop one.
The study was carried out in two phases. The first involved fifty-five PSTs and directed towards getting an accurate interpretation of procedural ideas underlying uncertainty by triangulating the evidence from questionnaire and interviews and iteratively refining the “probes” as the study progressed. The second phase focused on developing a questionnaire based on findings from the first and testing it on twenty PSTs.
The results revealed that most PSTs could recognise uncertainties in measurements and suggest the right actions to deal with them, but they generally had difficulties explaining their actions implying shallow understanding of concepts underpinning uncertainty, and reliance on routine knowledge. This has strong implications for teacher preparatory programmes as well as the teaching of procedural understanding.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Education
Keywords:Pre-service Primary Teachers, Concepts of Evidence, Uncertainty in Measurements, Singapore
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Education, School of
Thesis Date:2015
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:06 Jul 2015 15:39

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