Learning About Measurement Uncertainties in Secondary Education: A Model of the Subject Matter

  • Burkhard PriemerEmail author
  • Julia Hellwig


Estimating measurement uncertainties is important for experimental scientific work. However, this is very often neglected in school curricula and teaching practice, even though experimental work is seen as a fundamental part of teaching science. In order to call attention to the relevance of measurement uncertainties, we developed a comprehensive model that structures and describes all subject matter on measurement uncertainties relevant to secondary education (age 13–19 years). It consists of ten basic concepts categorized within the following four dimensions: (a) existence of uncertainties, (b) handling of uncertainties, (c) assessment of uncertainties, and (d) conclusiveness of uncertainties. The model was developed by reviewing the subject literature, constructing a model for university level, validating this model with 6 experts in metrology (the science of measurement), adapting the model to the target group, and validating the simplified model with 108 science teachers. We present the model and its development by describing the dimensions and concepts and by giving examples. Thus, our work provides a base for developing and assessing instructions to teach the estimation of measurement uncertainties in secondary education.


Measurement Measurement error Measurement uncertainty Secondary education 


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Copyright information

© Ministry of Science and Technology, Taiwan 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Physics Education, Department of PhysicsHumboldt-Universität zu BerlinBerlinGermany
  2. 2.Theodor-Heuss-GymnasiumRecklinghausenGermany

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