uu.seUppsala University Publications
Change search
CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf
Undergraduate quantum mechanics: lost opportunities for engaging motivated students?
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Physics, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Physics Didactics.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-8180-5369
2018 (English)In: European journal of physics, ISSN 0143-0807, E-ISSN 1361-6404, Vol. 39, no 2, article id 025705Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Quantum mechanics is widely recognised as an important and difficult subject, and many studies have been published focusing on students' conceptual difficulties. However, the sociocultural aspects of studying such an emblematic subject have not been researched to any large extent. This study explores students' experiences of undergraduate quantum mechanics using qualitative analysis of semi-structured interview data. The results inform discussions about the teaching of quantum mechanics by adding a sociocultural dimension. Students pictured quantum mechanics as an intriguing subject that inspired them to study physics. The study environment they encountered when taking their first quantum mechanics course was however not always as inspiring as expected. Quantum mechanics instruction has commonly focused on the mathematical framework of quantum mechanics, and this kind of teaching was also what the interviewees had experienced. Two ways of handling the encounter with a traditional quantum mechanics course were identified in the interviews; either students accept the practice of studying quantum mechanics in a mathematical, exercise-centred way or they distance themselves from these practices and the subject. The students who responded by distancing themselves experienced a crisis and disappointment, where their experiences did not match the way they imagined themselves engaging with quantum mechanics. The implications of these findings are discussed in relation to efforts to reform the teaching of undergraduate quantum mechanics.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018. Vol. 39, no 2, article id 025705
National Category
Physical Sciences Educational Sciences Gender Studies
Research subject
Physics with specialization in Physics Education
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-341687DOI: 10.1088/1361-6404/aa9b42ISI: 000423670100002OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-341687DiVA, id: diva2:1182233
Available from: 2018-02-12 Created: 2018-02-12 Last updated: 2018-08-19Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. The formation of successful physics students: Discourse and identity perspectives on university physics
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The formation of successful physics students: Discourse and identity perspectives on university physics
2018 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In university physics education, unequal student participation has always been an issue. An example is the fact that men constitute 70–80% of the student body in most countries. In recent years, physics education research has started to explore issues of participation, diversity, and identity, but more research and theoretical and methodological development is needed. The work presented in this thesis adopts a discursive perspective on students’ physics identity, building on developments in gender studies and related fields. Focusing on several important steps in physics education, the study explores what it means to become a physicist by asking how norms about being a successful physics student are constructed in the discourses of the education. The methodology is qualitative and interpretative, using participant observation and interviews to explore classroom discourse and student narratives. These theoretical and methodological tools combined with a detailed focus on physics education practice, provide a framework for a deeper understanding of identity in physics. A general conclusion of this study is that physics courses, when taught from a narrow physics perspective, may limit the possibilities for identification for many students. For example, engineering students on less physics-oriented programmes had difficulties seeing electromagnetism as significant for their vocational identity. Similar results occurred in quantum mechanics, where a strong focus on calculating can alienate some students. Concurrent with the particular appeal that quantum mechanics can have in attracting students to physics, a mismatch between expectations and course practice can cause an identity crisis for students investing in an identity as a quantum physicist. For physics master’s students, finding a place in physics meant negotiating norms about intelligence and “nerdiness”. These common and gendered stereotypical attributions for physicists took on specific significance in relation to subject choice in physics. More theoretical and pure physics directions were implicitly accorded higher status and seen as requiring more intelligence, but at the same time could also be positioned as more nerdy. The study’s outcomes provide input to physics instructors and departments who want to develop more inclusive and diverse physics education, as well as theoretical and methodological resources for further research.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2018. p. 139
Series
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Science and Technology, ISSN 1651-6214 ; 1706
National Category
Physical Sciences Educational Sciences Gender Studies
Research subject
Physics with specialization in Physics Education
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-357341 (URN)978-91-513-0413-7 (ISBN)
Public defence
2018-10-05, Häggsalen, 10132, Ångströmlaboratoriet, Lägerhyddsvägen 1, Uppsala, 09:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2018-09-13 Created: 2018-08-19 Last updated: 2018-10-02

Open Access in DiVA

AJ EJP Accepted version(242 kB)3 downloads
File information
File name FULLTEXT01.pdfFile size 242 kBChecksum SHA-512
af1be4826654591854dab02cf1e81dc75676b0fc047ba663e7c45ed834dedde6b22fe2d020a6687c85ad0b9c139ff821740f56b3850f4b6754436793afbf7782
Type fulltextMimetype application/pdf

Other links

Publisher's full text

Authority records BETA

Johansson, Anders

Search in DiVA

By author/editor
Johansson, Anders
By organisation
Physics Didactics
In the same journal
European journal of physics
Physical SciencesEducational SciencesGender Studies

Search outside of DiVA

GoogleGoogle Scholar
Total: 3 downloads
The number of downloads is the sum of all downloads of full texts. It may include eg previous versions that are now no longer available

doi
urn-nbn

Altmetric score

doi
urn-nbn
Total: 34 hits
CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf