Variation in students' propensities for managing uncertainty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore how students vary in their propensities for managing uncertainty they experience during academic tasks. Naturalistic observation and interviews were conducted with students collaborating on robotics engineering projects in a regular fifth-grade class. Techniques of grounded theory and microanalysis of discourse revealed five propensities for managing uncertainty. In particular, students varied in the size and composition of the set of tactics from which they drew and in their willingness to acknowledge uncertainty. Results contribute to theoretical understandings of uncertainty orientations as multi-dimensional and well represented by categories. They also contribute to the science of instruction by indicating that students with different propensities might benefit from differential teacher scaffolding. Suggestions are made for how teachers can shape students' management of uncertainty to facilitate learning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)99-106
Number of pages8
JournalLearning and Individual Differences
StatePublished - Feb 1 2015


  • Collaborative learning
  • Elementary students
  • Self-regulation
  • Uncertainty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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