Thesis Detail Page
Conceptual and Mathematical Barriers to Students Learning Quantum Mechanics
written by Homeyra R. Sadaghiani
The purpose of this study is to identify students' conceptual and mathematical difficulties in learning the core concepts of introductory quantum mechanics, with the eventual goal of developing instructional material to help students with these difficulties. We have investigated student understanding of several core topics in the introductory courses, including quantum measurement, probability, Uncertainty Principle, wave functions, energy eigenstates, recognizing symmetry in physical systems, and mathematical formalism. Student specific difficulties with these topics are discussed throughout this dissertation.
In addition, we have studied student difficulties in learning, applying, and making sense out of complex mathematical processes in the physics classroom. We found students' achievement in quantum courses is not independent of their math backgrounds. In addition, there is a large jump in the level of mathematics at which one needs to succeed in physics courses after the sophomore level in The Ohio State University's physics curriculum.
The results reported suggest recommendations for further study of student understanding of quantum mechanics and for the development of materials to aid understanding. These recommendations have potentially important implications for the teaching of introductory quantum mechanics and for the development of teaching aids, texts, and technology resources.
University: The Ohio State University
Academic Department: Physics
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Published: August 18, 2005
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