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ERIC Number: ED431597
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1998
Pages: 16
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
Students' Conceptions of the "Reality Status" of Electrons.
Mashhadi, Azam; Woolnough, Brian
Science has many explanatory concepts that have been proposed to account for the observable features of things. Such explanatory concepts often have associated with them hidden or unseen "theoretical entities." The electron is a key concept in understanding phenomena described by science. The question arises, however, as to how students make sense of such an unobservable theoretical entity. In incorporating such a concept into their overall cognitive structure, students have to address a number of questions. The implications of quantum theory for the common sense notion of an object illustrate the difficulties in using analogies taken from ordinary experience to "explain" the subatomic world. Following a review of previous research, this paper presents a study that investigated students' understanding of the "reality" of an electron as a quantum entity. Over the last 20 years there has been considerable research interest in students' perceptions of phenomena in such areas as energy, motion, the particulate nature of matter, electricity, and light; however, 90 years after the genesis of quantum physics, significant research on students' understanding of such revolutionary phenomena is only beginning to emerge. Results indicate that at the level of both ontology and epistemology students' responses appear to be predominantly Realist. The complimentary self-consistency of the findings from each of the studies also indicates that the various students' conceptions of the ontology and epistemology of entities can be characterized by particular statements. Contains 30 references. (Author/WRM)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A