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ERIC Number: EJ1076748
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015
Pages: 24
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 97
ISBN: N/A
ISSN: EISSN-1554-9178
Review of Student Difficulties in Upper-Level Quantum Mechanics
Singh, Chandralekha; Marshman, Emily
Physical Review Special Topics - Physics Education Research, v11 n2 p020117-1-020117-24 Jul-Dec 2015
Learning advanced physics, in general, is challenging not only due to the increased mathematical sophistication but also because one must continue to build on all of the prior knowledge acquired at the introductory and intermediate levels. In addition, learning quantum mechanics can be especially challenging because the paradigms of classical mechanics and quantum mechanics are very different. Here, we review research on student reasoning difficulties in learning upper-level quantum mechanics and research on students' problem-solving and metacognitive skills in these courses. Some of these studies were multiuniversity investigations. The investigations suggest that there is large diversity in student performance in upper-level quantum mechanics regardless of the university, textbook, or instructor, and many students in these courses have not acquired a functional understanding of the fundamental concepts. The nature of reasoning difficulties in learning quantum mechanics is analogous to reasoning difficulties found via research in introductory physics courses. The reasoning difficulties were often due to overgeneralizations of concepts learned in one context to another context where they are not directly applicable. Reasoning difficulties in distinguishing between closely related concepts and in making sense of the formalism of quantum mechanics were common. We conclude with a brief summary of the research-based approaches that take advantage of research on student difficulties in order to improve teaching and learning of quantum mechanics. [This paper is part of the Focused Collection on Upper Division Physics Courses.]
American Physical Society. One Physics Ellipse 4th Floor, College Park, MD 20740-3844. Tel: 301-209-3200; Fax: 301-209-0865; e-mail: assocpub@aps.org; Web site: http://prst-per.aps.org
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: National Science Foundation (NSF)
Authoring Institution: N/A
IES Grant or Contract Numbers: PHY-1505460|PHY-1202909