Investigating students' mental models about the nature of light in different contexts


EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF PHYSICS, vol.36, no.6, 2015 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 36 Issue: 6
  • Publication Date: 2015
  • Doi Number: 10.1088/0143-0807/36/6/065042
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Keywords: photoelectric effect, blackbody radiation, Compton effect, mental models, model states, SINGLE-SLIT DIFFRACTION, PRIOR KNOWLEDGE, INSTRUCTION, CROSS
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: Yes


In this study, we investigated pre-service physics teachers' mental models of light in different contexts, such as blackbody radiation, the photoelectric effect and the Compton effect. The data collected through the paper-and-pencil questionnaire (PPQ) were analyzed both quantitatively and qualitatively. Sampling of this study consists of a total of 110 physics education students who were taking a modern physics course at two different state universities in Turkey. As a result, three mental models, which were called the beam ray model (BrM), hybrid model (HM) and particle model (PM), were being used by the students while explaining these phenomena. The most model fluctuation was seen in HM and BrM. In addition, some students were in a mixedmodel state where they use multiple mental models in explaining a phenomenon and used these models inconsistently. On the other hand, most of the students who used the particle model can be said to be in a pure model state.