A Holistic Picture of Physics Student Conceptions of Energy Quantization, the Photon Concept, and Light Quanta Interference

Beth Thacker, Mengesha Ayene, Jeanne Krick, Baylie Damtie, Ake Ingerman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

A detailed investigation of student conceptions of quantum phenomena is needed, both to characterize student understanding of quantum concepts and to inform how we might teach quantum mechanics (QM). In this vein, in-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with 35 students who majored in physics and received university-level QM instructions. Interview protocols were used and based on three quantum contexts: the quantization of energy in explaining the blackbody radiation, the photon concept in explaining the photoelectric effect, and light quanta in explaining the gradual formation of an interference pattern in the cases of low-intensity light beam. By applying a developmental phenomenographic analysis of the interview responses, three description categories (i.e., general patterns behind the conceptual understandings used in explaining each quantum contexts) were identified. These categories of descriptions revealed that most students’ thinking regarding foundational concepts
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-22
JournalInternational Journal of Science and Mathematics Education
StatePublished - Jun 2018

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