The design and evaluation of digital materials to introduce quantum physics at upper secondary school

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    In the Netherlands since 2015-2016 quantum physics (QP) has become a prominent physics subject in the last year of pre-university education. QP is a physics theory that describes physical processes at the (sub)atomic and molecular level. Worldwide, students and teachers at secondary and tertiary level have difficulties learning and teaching QP because of its abstract and counterintuitive nature. Research has shown that QP education can benefit from computer simulations that visualise abstract QP phenomena. Using a design-based research approach, digital materials that integrated research-based computer simulations were designed and tested in three Dutch upper secondary school classrooms. Our research aimed to design and evaluate digital materials that Dutch teachers could use to teach QP curriculum topics such as energy levels, wave functions and probability distribution to their students. Students worked in pairs with the digital materials while exploring the particular behaviour of an electron in a pigment molecule, and comparing this behaviour with their classical predictions. Classroom observations and interviews with students and teachers were conducted to evaluate the design of digital materials. Results showed that students were able to productively reason and discuss the QP content in pairs. Students and teachers valued the digital materials since they helped students’ understanding of QP. Nevertheless, students recommended that learning goals should be made more explicit and that the teacher should provide more substantive support.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 2019
    EventESERA 2019: The beauty and pleasure of understanding: engaging with contemporary challenges through science education - Bologna, Italy
    Duration: 26 Aug 201930 Aug 2019


    ConferenceESERA 2019
    Internet address


    • physics
    • conceptual understanding
    • design based research


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