physicsguide

May 15th, 2015
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Investigating student understanding of quantum physics: Spontaneousmodels of conductivityMichael C. WittmannDepartment of Physics, Department of Physics and Astronomy, 5709 Bennett Hall, University of Maine,Orono, Maine 04469-5709Richard N. SteinbergDepartment of Physics, City College of New York, 138th Street at Convent Avenue, New York,New York 10031Edward F. RedishDepartment of Physics, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland 20742-4111Received 30 August 2001; accepted 5 December 2001Students are taught several models of conductivity, both at the introductory and the advanced level.From early macroscopic models of current flow in circuits, through the discussion of microscopicparticle descriptions of electrons flowing in an atomic lattice, to the development of microscopicnonlocalized band diagram descriptions in advanced physics courses, they need to be able todistinguish between commonly used, though sometimes contradictory, physical models. Ininvestigations of student reasoning about models of conduction, we find that students often areunable to account for the existence of free electrons in a conductor and create models that lead toincorrect predictions and responses contradictory to expert descriptions of the physics. We haveused these findings as a guide to creating curriculum materials that we show can be effective helpingstudents to apply the different conduction models more effectively. 2002 American Association ofPhysics Te

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