Analysing students’ experiences learning quantum physics through the constant comparative method: A critical discussion

Activity: Talk or presentation typesContributed talkScientific


Currently, quantum physics (QP) is an important part of upper secondary school physics curricula worldwide. Students have difficulties developing an understanding of this topic due to the abstract and counterintuitive concepts involved (Krijtenburg-Lewerissa et al., 2017). A classroom activity that has shown to support students’ understanding of QP is the use of digital materials that visualize these abstract and counterintuitive concepts (e.g. McKagan et al., 2008). However, students still experience difficulties learning QP while using digital materials, such as a lack of clear and practical applications of the theory or appropriate teacher support (Bouchée, Thurlings, et al., under review). A more comprehensive design of such an activity is needed to create a more successful learning experience for students as well as a holistic means of studying the learning experiences to establish success or failure of the design.
A Design-Based Research approach was used to establish what, why and how learning activities that include digital materials can promote students’ ‘learning experiences’ in QP. Four lessons were designed that incorporated freely available research-based computer simulations. These four lessons were enacted in one school where 69 students divided over three classes worked on the designed learning activities under the guidance of two teachers. Interviews with students and teachers and classroom observations were conducted to investigate students’ learning experiences.
This present paper aims to argue for the constant comparative method as an appropriate analytical method to analyse the effect of the designed learning activities on students’ learning experiences. Therefore, an overview of our theoretical orientation, research methodology and analytical approach will be presented, and the affordances and limitations of the constant comparative method will be discussed.
Period18 Mar 2021
Event titleICO International Spring School 2021: The international networking conference for all PhD candidates in Educational Sciences
Event typeConference
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • learning experiences
  • constant comparative method
  • design based research
  • quantum physics education
  • upper secondary school level