Secondary school students' misunderstandings of potential wells and tunneling

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

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In order to investigate students’ misunderstandings of potential wells and tunneling, a conceptual knowledge test was administered to Dutch secondary school students after they were taught about quantum mechanics. A frequency analysis of responses to the multiple choice questions (n=98) and coding of the
responses to the open-ended questions and explanations (n=13) shows that Dutch secondary school students experience difficulties similar to those reported for undergraduate students. The students’ underlying difficulties were analyzed using a typology of learning impediments. Results of this analysis
show that students have difficulty connecting knowledge of potential wells and tunneling to their prior knowledge. Students mainly have creative and epistemological learning impediments, which cause eight incorrect synthetic models.
Original languageEnglish
Article number010132
Number of pages17
JournalPhysical review physics education research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2020


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