ERIC Number: ED414204
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1997-Jun
Dualistic Thinking Underlying Students' Understanding of Quantum Physics.
Mashhadi, Azam; Woolnough, Brian
Philosophical analysis indicates that underlying much of the Western scientific world view is the metaphysical presupposition of duality, the claim being made that the world is made sense of in terms of either/or and in terms of polarities (e.g., light versus dark). By way of contrast, no concept is more important in Asian philosophical and religious thought than that of nonduality. The basic ideas of quantum physics are not so much difficult as that they are strange. In some situations, electrons that are usually referred to as 'particles' may exhibit 'wave-like' behavior. Both matter and radiation can be viewed as having a dual (wave-particle) nature. In an empirical study of student thinking, the powerful heuristic metaphor of the map is used to construct graphic representations of United Kingdom Advanced level students' understanding of quantum physics. The nature of students' understanding is represented by their construction of groupings of ideas in a personal psychological space with underlying dimensions providing a co-ordinate system for their perceptions. The relationships between students' conceptions of quantum phenomena at the level of the population group are investigated using a structured questionnaire and multivariate analytical techniques (Multidimensional Scaling, Cluster Analysis, and Factor Analysis). A novel quantitative methodology is used to probe students' qualitative implicit understanding. Findings confirm the primacy of dualism in student thinking. Contains 51 references. (Author)
Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual International Conference on Thinking (7th, Singapore, June 1-6, 1997).