Quantum mechanics is difficult both to teach and learn in an introductory physics course because the subject is abstract and usually accompanied with high-level mathematics. In an attempt to improve students; understanding of quantum mechanics, the Physics Education Research Group at Kansas State University has studied student difficulties and developed curriculum. The Visual Quantum Mechanics (VQM) materials lead the students to obtain the main of quantum mechanics such as energy quantization of hydrogen atoms by observing specter of hydrogen gas lamp and using the computer simulations. VQM uses spectra of different types of lamps as an accessible starting point for learning quantum mechanics. The observation of spectra of hydrogen gas lamp is also a good way to provide students with hands-on activities for the abstract subjects. So, we would like to investigate how student observe the spectra of different kinds of lamps and how they related their observations to energy of light. Furthermore, we would like to investigate students' conceptions related to light energy and light color. We have found that there was a difference between the students' observation, which was not theory guided and that expected by the physicists. We also have found a couple of students' conceptual models based on their reasoning on the subject of light energy and light color. When we reviewed the students' conceptual models by the context, it was found that the context of the question affected the students' choice of conceptual models. By comparing before and after instruction, new teaching materials in a modern physics course could help the students changing their conceptions significantly.
Lee, S. (2002). Students' Understanding of Spectra. PhD. Dissertation. Kansas State University