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Improving Students' Understanding of Quantum Mechanics

Zhu, Guangtian (2011) Improving Students' Understanding of Quantum Mechanics. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh.

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    Abstract

    Learning physics is challenging at all levels. Students’ difficulties in the introductory level physics courses have been widely studied and many instructional strategies have been developed to help students learn introductory physics. However, research shows that there is a large diversity in students’ preparation and skills in the upper-level physics courses and it is necessary to provide scaffolding support to help students learn advanced physics. This thesis explores issues related to students’ common difficulties in learning upper-level undergraduate quantum mechanics and how these difficulties can be reduced by research-based learning tutorials and peer instruction tools. We investigated students’ difficulties in learning quantum mechanics by administering written tests and surveys to many classes and conducting individual interviews with a subset of students. Based on these investigations, we developed Quantum Interactive Learning Tutorials (QuILTs) and peer instruction tools to help students build a hierarchical knowledge structure of quantum mechanics through a guided approach. Preliminary assessments indicate that students’ understanding of quantum mechanics is improved after using the research-based learning tools in the junior-senior level quantum mechanics courses. We also designed a standardized conceptual survey that can help instructors better probe students’ understanding of quantum mechanics concepts in one spatial dimension. The validity and reliability of this quantum mechanics survey is discussed.


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    Details

    Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
    Creators/Authors:
    CreatorsEmailORCID
    Zhu, Guangtianzhuguangtian@gmail.com
    ETD Committee:
    ETD Committee TypeCommittee MemberEmailORCID
    Committee ChairSingh, Chandralekhaclsingh@pitt.edu
    Committee MemberKosowsky, Arthurkosowsky@pitt.edu
    Committee MemberShuman, Larryshuman@pitt.edu
    Committee MemberJohnsen, Rainerrj@pitt.edu
    Committee MemberDevaty, Robertdevaty@pitt.edu
    Title: Improving Students' Understanding of Quantum Mechanics
    Status: Unpublished
    Abstract: Learning physics is challenging at all levels. Students’ difficulties in the introductory level physics courses have been widely studied and many instructional strategies have been developed to help students learn introductory physics. However, research shows that there is a large diversity in students’ preparation and skills in the upper-level physics courses and it is necessary to provide scaffolding support to help students learn advanced physics. This thesis explores issues related to students’ common difficulties in learning upper-level undergraduate quantum mechanics and how these difficulties can be reduced by research-based learning tutorials and peer instruction tools. We investigated students’ difficulties in learning quantum mechanics by administering written tests and surveys to many classes and conducting individual interviews with a subset of students. Based on these investigations, we developed Quantum Interactive Learning Tutorials (QuILTs) and peer instruction tools to help students build a hierarchical knowledge structure of quantum mechanics through a guided approach. Preliminary assessments indicate that students’ understanding of quantum mechanics is improved after using the research-based learning tools in the junior-senior level quantum mechanics courses. We also designed a standardized conceptual survey that can help instructors better probe students’ understanding of quantum mechanics concepts in one spatial dimension. The validity and reliability of this quantum mechanics survey is discussed.
    Date: 01 July 2011
    Date Type: Completion
    Defense Date: 02 March 2011
    Approval Date: 01 July 2011
    Submission Date: 07 March 2011
    Access Restriction: No restriction; The work is available for access worldwide immediately.
    Patent pending: No
    Institution: University of Pittsburgh
    Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
    Refereed: Yes
    Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
    URN: etd-03072011-133751
    Uncontrolled Keywords: objective test; peer instruction; physics education; research-based learning tools
    Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Physics
    Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 14:32
    Last Modified: 24 Feb 2012 12:50
    Other ID: http://etd.library.pitt.edu/ETD/available/etd-03072011-133751/, etd-03072011-133751

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