We investigate the difficulties that undergraduate students in quantum mechanics courses have in transferring learning from previous courses or within the same course from one context to another by administering written tests and conducting individual interviews. Quantum mechanics is abstract and its paradigm is very different from the classical one. A good grasp of the principles of quantum mechanics requires creating and organizing a knowledge structure consistent with the quantum postulates. Previously learned concepts such as the principle of superposition and probability can be useful in quantum mechanics if students are given opportunity to build associations between new and prior knowledge. We also discuss the need for better alignment between quantum mechanics and modern physics courses taken previously because semi-classical models can impede internalization of the quantum paradigm in more advanced courses.
Published September 1, 2005
Last Modified July 8, 2013
This file is included in the full-text index.