Connecting Secondary School Quantum Physics and Nature of Science: possibilities and challenges in curriculum design, teaching, and learning

Kirsten Stadermann

Research output: ThesisThesis fully internal (DIV)

408 Downloads (Pure)


Quantum physics has been part of the Dutch upper secondary school physics exam since 2016. It is a very challenging subject because quantum objects can exhibit properties of waves as well as particles. Such peculiarities of quantum physics provide opportunities to introduce students to features, methods, and limits of science. Such knowledge about the Nature of Science is becoming increasingly important in public debates and personal decisions. Therefore, pupils should learn to think about questions such as: How is scientific knowledge generated? How ‘certain’ is scientific knowledge? What does scientific research mean for society? However, such questions receive little attention in physics lessons. Quantum physics lessons could change this.
A study in the Netherlands showed that pupils who had taken quantum physics lessons had a good understanding of several aspects of the Nature of Science. Unfortunately, physics textbooks offer few possibilities to discuss the Nature of Science. Using specially developed teaching materials, Stadermann tries to stimulate such discussions. In Stadermann’s study, teachers were found to use the materials to discuss, for example, the role of models in science and different interpretations of quantum physics. They also used them to give science a more human face.
Stadermann hopes to inspire curriculum developers, teacher trainers and textbook authors to integrate aspects of the Nature of Science into quantum physics. In her opinion, the most important goal of physics education should be to help pupils understand how science works and quantum physics seems to be a suitable subject for this.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Groningen
  • Goedhart, Martin, Supervisor
  • Roest, Diederik, Supervisor
Award date22-Mar-2022
Place of Publication[Groningen]
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Quantum physics
  • Secondary education
  • Teacher development
  • Curriculum
  • Physics education

Cite this