Quantum physics: Learning impossibilities the experiential way is funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), to help pre-university students better acquire deep conceptual knowledge of quantum physics. This project is a cooperation between the department of Instructional Technology (IST) and the teacher training institute ELAN, both being part of the University of Twente.
Quantum physics was recently added as a required subject in the examination for pre-university students in the Netherlands who select physics as part of their curriculum. Students, however, have deep conceptual problems with quantum physics, and earlier acquired classical physics knowledge is often no longer valid.
In this project, a new method for teaching quantum physics is developed, starting from inquiry learning with interactive virtual labs that visualize quantum physics phenomena and followed by a peer tutoring phase and a class discussion. The project itself starts with a co-creation stage in which virtual labs, peer tutoring, and class discussion scripts are developed in an iterative design cycle involving teachers, students, and designers. The effectiveness of the new method is evaluated in a cross-cohort comparison using a dedicated quantum physics test and the national examination scores. The virtual labs, their online learning spaces, and the developed scripts will be available for free to all physics teachers on the Go-Lab Sharing and Support platform. Workshops for (in-service) teachers will be offered and a course for pre-service teachers will be created and shared. The overall approach developed can also be applied to design instruction for other (difficult) science topics.