The relevance of learning quantum physics from the perspective of the secondary school student: A case study

Tania S. Moraga-Calderón 1 * , Henk Buisman 1, Julia Cramer 1 2
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1 Leiden Institute of Physics, Faculty of Science, Leiden University, Leiden, The Netherlands
2 Department of Science Communication and Society, Faculty of Science, Leiden University, Leiden, The Netherlands
* Corresponding Author
EUR J SCI MATH ED, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp. 32-50. https://doi.org/10.30935/scimath/9545
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ABSTRACT

Studying quantum physics in upper secondary school is now a standard practice (Stadermann et al., 2019). But given the context of science education, with low recruitment numbers in higher education and poor attitudes towards science, it remains a question whether students find the learning of quantum physics relevant. In this study, we explore how students perceive the importance of quantum physics and technology and whether their perception changes after an intervention, namely the “Quantum Rules!” visit. We also aim to understand if they overall feel that learning quantum is relevant or not. In order to answer these questions, we followed a mixed-methods approach, combining both questionnaires and interviews. The quantitative analysis showed that the ‘Quantum Rules!’ intervention has a positive effect on students’ perception of the relevance of quantum physics and technology, especially regarding how important they feel quantum science is for society. Nevertheless, the qualitative information revealed that although students may find quantum physics and technology important for society, that does not necessarily mean that they find learning quantum physics relevant. We found that students believe the latter is relevant to them only if they find it interesting. We therefore rediscover the common expression “important, but not for me”, and we further propose that this perception derives from students not seeing the societal relevance of learning quantum physics.

CITATION

Moraga-Calderón, T. S., Buisman, H., & Cramer, J. (2020). The relevance of learning quantum physics from the perspective of the secondary school student: A case study. European Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 8(1), 32-50. https://doi.org/10.30935/scimath/9545

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