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PERC 2009 Abstract Detail Page

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Abstract Title: Faculty Disagreement about the Teaching of Quantum Mechanics
Abstract: At our school, there is a strong consensus among faculty on how to teach junior-level E&M. In particular, faculty agree that E&M should be taught on an axiomatic basis (Maxwell's equations) and they agree on the essential concepts in the course (fields and potentials). In contrast, we find a range of opinions about how to teach first-semester, junior-level quantum mechanics (QM). We surveyed over 15 faculty about their approaches to teaching QM, and reviewed several popular textbooks. Although there is broad agreement on the list and order of topics (Schrodinger equation to matrix methods and spin), we find substantial disagreement in several pedagogical aspects, including (1) the importance of presenting QM on an axiomatic basis (i.e. the postulates);  (2) the treatment of measurement in QM (in particular, the collapse of the wave function); and (3) the physical interpretation of the wave function (matter wave vs. information wave vs. something else).
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Michael Dubson
Physics Dept, University of Colorado at Boulder
Physics Department, UCB 390
Boulder, CO 80309
Phone: 303-492-4938
Co-Author(s)
and Co-Presenter(s)
Steve Goldhaber (goldy -at- colorado.edu),
Steven Pollock (Steven.Pollock -at- Colorado.EDU),  and
Katherine Perkins (Katherine.Perkins -at- Colorado.EDU)
All at the Physics Dept., University of Colorado at Boulder.  Same street address as primary author.