Insights into teaching quantum mechanics in secondary and lower undergraduate education

Kim Krijtenburg-Lewerissa, Henk J Pol, Alexander Brinkman, Wouter van Joolingen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

133 Citations (Scopus)
148 Downloads (Pure)


This study presents a review of the current state of research on teaching quantum mechanics in secondary and lower undergraduate education. A conceptual approach to quantum mechanics is being implemented in more and more introductory physics courses around the world. Because of the differences between the conceptual nature of quantum mechanics and classical physics, research on misconceptions, testing, and teaching strategies for introductory quantum mechanics is needed. For this review, 74 articles were selected and analyzed for the misconceptions, research tools, teaching strategies, and multimedia applications investigated. Outcomes were categorized according to their contribution to the various subtopics of quantum mechanics. Analysis shows that students have difficulty relating quantum physics to physical reality. It also shows that the teaching of complex quantum behavior, such as time dependence, superposition, and the measurement problem, has barely been investigated for the secondary and lower undergraduate level. At the secondary school level, this article shows a need to investigate student difficulties concerning wave functions and potential wells. Investigation of research tools shows the necessity for the development of assessment tools for secondary and lower undergraduate education, which cover all major topics and are suitable for statistical analysis. Furthermore, this article shows the existence of very diverse ideas concerning teaching strategies for quantum mechanics and a lack of research into which strategies promote understanding. This article underlines the need for more empirical research into student difficulties, teaching strategies, activities, and research tools intended for a conceptual approach for quantum mechanics.
Original languageEnglish
Article number010109
Pages (from-to)-
JournalPhysical review physics education research
Issue number010109
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • METIS-321926
  • IR-104068


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