Quantum Physics Conceptual Survey (QPCS)

Developed by Sura Wuttiprom, Manjula Devi Sharma, Ian D. Johnston, Ratchapak Chitaree, and Chernchok Soankwan

Purpose To investigate students’ understanding of introductory quantum physics concepts.
Format Pre/post, Multiple-choice
Duration 30 min
Focus Modern / Quantum Content knowledge (de Broglie wavelength, double slit interference, uncertainty principle, photoelectric effect, wave particle duality)
Level Intermediate, Intro college
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Sample questions from the QPCS:


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S. Wuttiprom, M. Sharma, I. Johnston, R. Chitaree, and C. Soankwan, Development and Use of a Conceptual Survey in Introductory Quantum Physics, Int. J. Sci. Educ. 31 (5), 631 (2009).
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Silver Validation
This is the second highest level of research validation, corresponding to at least 5 of the validation categories below.

Research Validation Summary

Based on Research Into:

  • Student thinking

Studied Using:

  • Student interviews
  • Expert review
  • Appropriate statistical analysis

Research Conducted:

  • At multiple institutions
  • By multiple research groups
  • Peer-reviewed publication

The multiple-choice questions on the QPCS were developed based on topics common across several introductory quantum syllabi, expert opinion (through a Delphi process), and student ideas that emerged through open-ended questions. An initial set of questions was tested with over introductory 20 students. A revised set of questions were given to graduate students and experts, which were then revised again. The new set of questions were tested with 20 fourth-year students, and over 300 introductory and intermediate students. Appropriate statistical analyses of reliability, difficulty and discrimination were conducted and reasonable values were found. Overall, the QPCS has been tested with over 350 students, and results published in two peer-reviewed publications.


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Typical Results

Typical scores from Wuttiprom et. al 2009:

Class structure (researcher) Pre-test score (%) Post-test score (%) Normalized gain (%)
First year traditional (Wuttiprom) 46 ± 13 59 ± 14 23
Second year traditional (Wuttiprom) 62 ± 16 75 ± 12 32
Traditional, physics majors (Uscinski)     31 ± 48
Traditional, non-majors (Uscinski)     11 ± 35

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The latest version of the QPCS, released in 2009, is version 1.