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Physical Review Physics Education Research
written by Lana Ivanjek, Peter S. Shaffer, Maja Planinic, and Lillian C. McDermott
The topic of atomic spectra is part of university and secondary school curricula around the world. Relatively little research, however, has been done on the learning and teaching of this subject, despite the fact that it forms a foundation for advanced study in quantum mechanics, astronomy, and astrophysics. A systematic investigation into student understanding of the formation and structure of atomic spectra was conducted among more than 1000 science majors in physics courses at the University of Zagreb, Croatia and the University of Washington, USA. The research had two primary goals: (i) to probe the extent to which university students are able to relate the wavelength of spectral lines to the transition of electrons between energy levels in an atom, and (ii) to probe the extent to which students recognize the conditions under which discrete line spectra are (and are not) formed. This paper focuses on the latter aspect, in particular, student understanding of the experimental setup that is commonly used to illustrate the formation of discrete line spectra. Students were asked about how changes to a setup consisting of a light source, a mask with a slit, a prism (or diffraction grating), and a screen affect the spectra observed. The findings suggest that relatively few students recognize that the type of light source is critical for the formation of line spectra. Instead students often attribute the formation of line spectra to the slit, the prism (or diffraction grating), or even to the distance between the prism and screen.
Physical Review Physics Education Research: Volume 16, Issue 1, Pages 010102
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Astronomy
- Fundamentals
= Spectra
Education - Basic Research
- Alternative Conceptions
- Student Characteristics
= Skills
General Physics
- Physics Education Research
Modern Physics
- Atomic Physics
= Spectra
- Upper Undergraduate
- High School
- Lower Undergraduate
- Reference Material
= Research study
PER-Central Type Intended Users Ratings
- PER Literature
- Educators
- Professional/Practitioners
- Administrators
- Researchers
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Free access
License:
This material is released under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license.
Rights Holder:
American Physical Society
DOI:
10.1103/PhysRevPhysEducRes.16.010102
NSF Numbers:
DUE-1022449
DUE-821032
Keywords:
diffraction grating, line spectra, prism, spectra interpretation, spectral lines
Record Creator:
Metadata instance created June 15, 2020 by Lyle Barbato
Record Updated:
January 25, 2023 by Caroline Hall
Last Update
when Cataloged:
January 8, 2020
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AIP Format
L. Ivanjek, P. Shaffer, M. Planinic, and L. McDermott, , Phys. Rev. Phys. Educ. Res. 16 (1), 010102 (2020), WWW Document, (https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevPhysEducRes.16.010102).
AJP/PRST-PER
L. Ivanjek, P. Shaffer, M. Planinic, and L. McDermott, Probing student understanding of spectra through the use of a typical experiment used in teaching introductory modern physics, Phys. Rev. Phys. Educ. Res. 16 (1), 010102 (2020), <https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevPhysEducRes.16.010102>.
APA Format
Ivanjek, L., Shaffer, P., Planinic, M., & McDermott, L. (2020, January 8). Probing student understanding of spectra through the use of a typical experiment used in teaching introductory modern physics. Phys. Rev. Phys. Educ. Res., 16(1), 010102. Retrieved April 20, 2024, from https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevPhysEducRes.16.010102
Chicago Format
Ivanjek, L, P. Shaffer, M. Planinic, and L. McDermott. "Probing student understanding of spectra through the use of a typical experiment used in teaching introductory modern physics." Phys. Rev. Phys. Educ. Res. 16, no. 1, (January 8, 2020): 010102, https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevPhysEducRes.16.010102 (accessed 20 April 2024).
MLA Format
Ivanjek, Lana, Peter Shaffer, Maja Planinic, and Lillian C. McDermott. "Probing student understanding of spectra through the use of a typical experiment used in teaching introductory modern physics." Phys. Rev. Phys. Educ. Res. 16.1 (2020): 010102. 20 Apr. 2024 <https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevPhysEducRes.16.010102>.
BibTeX Export Format
@article{ Author = "Lana Ivanjek and Peter Shaffer and Maja Planinic and Lillian C. McDermott", Title = {Probing student understanding of spectra through the use of a typical experiment used in teaching introductory modern physics}, Journal = {Phys. Rev. Phys. Educ. Res.}, Volume = {16}, Number = {1}, Pages = {010102}, Month = {January}, Year = {2020} }
Refer Export Format

%A Lana Ivanjek %A Peter Shaffer %A Maja Planinic %A Lillian C. McDermott %T Probing student understanding of spectra through the use of a typical experiment used in teaching introductory modern physics %J Phys. Rev. Phys. Educ. Res. %V 16 %N 1 %D January 8, 2020 %P 010102 %U https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevPhysEducRes.16.010102 %O application/pdf

EndNote Export Format

%0 Journal Article %A Ivanjek, Lana %A Shaffer, Peter %A Planinic, Maja %A McDermott, Lillian C. %D January 8, 2020 %T Probing student understanding of spectra through the use of a typical experiment used in teaching introductory modern physics %J Phys. Rev. Phys. Educ. Res. %V 16 %N 1 %P 010102 %8 January 8, 2020 %U https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevPhysEducRes.16.010102


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