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Investigating and Improving Student Understanding of Quantum Mechanics Using Research-Validated Clicker Question Sequences and Tutorials

Hu, Peter Tianyi (2024) Investigating and Improving Student Understanding of Quantum Mechanics Using Research-Validated Clicker Question Sequences and Tutorials. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Quantum mechanics is notoriously challenging, and research has found that students struggle with many common difficulties when learning it. It is also proving to be a critical piece of many exciting fields that are all but assured to see great development and expansion in the coming years; the Second Quantum Revolution is upon us. Quantum information science and engineering is a rapidly unfolding field, requiring talent from many disciplines, that aims to leverage the potential of quantum systems for many practical applications. To prepare students for the opportunities afforded by these advances, a strong foundation in quantum mechanics is essential. The work that I present in this dissertation is focused on helping students achieve this understanding. By investigating the common difficulties that students have in key concepts related to quantum mechanics and quantum computing, a guiding framework can be established and followed to develop research-validated, active-engagement instructional tools. These tools include Clicker Question Sequences (CQSs) on (1) the basics of two-state quantum systems, and changing basis in two-state systems; (2) time-development of two-state systems; (3) quantum measurement of two-state systems, and (4) measurement uncertainty in two-state systems. In addition to these, I have developed and validated Quantum Interactive Learning Tutorials (QuILTs) consisting of guided-inquiry teaching-learning sequences for (1) the Bloch sphere and (2) the basics of quantum computing. In each case, cognitive task analysis from both expert and student perspectives was either carried out directly or built upon from the results of prior investigations. I discuss the results of implementations of these learning tools in authentic classroom environments, which involves both online and in-person administrations and multiple instructors. In each case, student performance after engaging with the learning tools increased noticeably, and dramatically for some difficult concepts.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Hu, Peter Tianyipth9@pitt.edupth90000-0002-1866-2710
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairSingh, Chandralekhaclsingh@pitt.edu0000-0002-1234-5458
Committee MemberDevaty, Robertdevaty@pitt.edu0000-0002-6863-4099
Committee MemberGarrett-Roe, Seansgr@pitt.edu0000-0001-6199-8773
Committee MemberKosowsky, Arthurkosowsky@pitt.edu0000-0002-3734-331X
Committee MemberMong, Rogerrmong@pitt.edu0009-0000-7182-5681
Date: 13 May 2024
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: March 2024
Approval Date: 13 May 2024
Submission Date: 14 February 2024
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 305
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Physics
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: quantum mechanics, physics education research, clicker questions, tutorials
Date Deposited: 13 May 2024 13:49
Last Modified: 13 May 2024 13:49


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