A complete understanding of why each element has a particular electronic configurations is a very complex subject. Even so, some confusion regarding the electronic configurations of the elements may be alleviated by looking at the physical properties of the electronic orbitals.
Orbital Viewer, written by David Manthey, is a fantastic program for displaying electronic orbitals. You can read more about the program here. I have my students use Orbital Viewer when learning about quantum numbers and their associated rules, electronic orbitals, and other quantum concepts. I have developed a worksheet that allows students to use Orbital Viewer to explore various concepts related to electronic orbitals. You can download this worksheet and answer key below. I would very much appreciate you letting me know if
My freshman chemistry students take somewhere between 30 and 90 minutes to complete the worksheet.