Secondary school students’ views of nature of science in quantum physics
Epistemological and philosophical issues have always been relevant for the foundations of physics, but usually do not find their way into secondary physics classrooms. As an exception to this, the strangeness of quantum physics (QP) naturally evokes philosophical questions, and learners might have to change their ideas about the nature of science (NOS). In this exploratory mixed-method study, we examined possible connections between upper secondary school students’ QP content knowledge and their ideas about relevant aspects of NOS in the context of QP. We administered a QP concept test to 240 Dutch secondary students (age 17–19) after they attended classes on QP without a focus on NOS. Next, we selected 24 students with a range of test scores for individual semi-structured interviews about their understanding of wave-particle duality and their views on five aspects of NOS. Contrary to NOS studies in other contexts, the interviews showed that all 24 students had well-informed NOS views in the context of QP. We contend that NOS in QP might be more easily accessible than in many other contexts. Our results suggest that QP can have an additional role in the physics curriculum by enhancing students’ understanding of NOS.