npsm 새물리 New Physics : Sae Mulli

pISSN 0374-4914 eISSN 2289-0041


Research Paper

New Phys.: Sae Mulli 2020; 70: 443-453

Published online May 29, 2020

Copyright © New Physics: Sae Mulli.

Distribution of high School Students’ Conceptional Understanding About Quantum Phenomena

Sungmin IM*

Department of Physics Education, Daegu University, Gyeongsan 38453, Korea

Received: January 28, 2020; Revised: February 27, 2020; Accepted: March 10, 2020

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The purpose of this study is to investigate the distribution of Korean high school students’ conceptual understanding about quantum phenomena so as to infer the significance of teaching and learning quantum physics in high school. For this, the authors investigated students’ ($N$ = 490) agreement a 29 statements that represented typical ideas of quantum phenomena and analyzed their responses by using cluster analysis and multi-dimensional scaling. As a result, high school students’ ideas about quantum phenomena could be clustered as (1) confused thinking, (2) quantum thinking, and (3) mechanistic thinking. Students’ ideas could also be mapped with two dimensions, which are (1) duality and (2) uncertainty. Students could be grouped according to the distribution of conceptional clusters into two groups: (1) ‘mixed’ group who had mixed conceptions and (2) ‘modern’ group who had scientific conceptions. The sizes of group were similar, and no significant differences between the two groups in the distributions of conceptions according to student’s gender, grade, or prior experience with physics learning were found.

Keywords: Quantum phenomena, Conceptual understanding, High school student, Cluster analysis, Multi-dimensional scaling