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The latest PER-Central features, resource additions, and announcements.en-USCopyright 2014, ComPADRE.orgeditor@per-central.org (Managing Editor)Thu, 31 Jul 2014 11:39:48 ESThttp://blogs.law.harvard.edu/tech/rsshttp://www.compadre.org/PER/services/images/LogoSmallPER.gifPER-Central
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12535More than just "plug-and-chug": Exploring how physics students make sense with equationsIn this dissertation, I explore the ways that undergraduate physics students make conceptual sense of physics equations and the factors that support this type of reasoning through three separate studies.<br /><br />In the first study, I investigate how students' can understand physics equations intuitively through use of a particular class of cognitive elements, symbolic forms (Sherin, 2001). Additionally, I show how students leverage this intuitive, conceptual meaning of equations in problem solving. By doing so, these students avoid algorithmic manipulations, instead using a heuristic approach that leverages the equation in a conceptual argument.<br /><br />The second study asks the question why some students use symbolic forms and others don't. Although it is possible that students simply lack the knowledge required, I argue that this is not the only explanation. Rather, symbolic forms use is connected to particular epistemological stances, in-the-moment views on what kinds of knowledge and reasoning are appropriate in physics. Specifically, stances that value coherence between formal, mathematical knowledge and intuitive, conceptual knowledge are likely to support symbolic forms use. Through the case study of one student, I argue that both reasoning with equations and epistemological stances are dynamic, and that shifts in epistemological stance can produce shifts in whether symbolic forms are used to reason with equations.<br /><br />The third study expands the focus to what influences how students reason with equations across disciplinary problem contexts. In seeking to understand differences in how the same student reasons on two similar problems in calculus and physics, I show two factors, beyond the content or structure of the problems, that can help explain why reasoning on these two problems would be so different. This contributes to an understanding of what can support or impede transfer of content knowledge across disciplinary boundaries.
http://www.compadre.org/PER/items/detail.cfm?ID=13313
http://www.physics.umd.edu/perg/dissertations/Kuo/http://www.compadre.org/PER/bulletinboard/Thread.cfm?ID=13313Education Foundations/Learning TheoryThu, 03 Jul 2014 15:28:22 ESTConceptual and Mathematical Barriers to Students Learning Quantum MechanicsThe 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.<br /><br />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.<br /><br />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.
http://www.compadre.org/PER/items/detail.cfm?ID=13270
http://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=13270&DocID=3805http://www.compadre.org/PER/bulletinboard/Thread.cfm?ID=13270Quantum Physics/GeneralSun, 08 Jun 2014 12:04:12 ESTPER-Based Tutorials for Quantum PhysicsThis series of student tutorials for quantum physics, covering topics of wave properties of light and matter, probability, and wave functions. Included with some of the tutorials are pre-tests for the topic and related homework.<br /><br />This material is based on the work on Intuitive Quantum Physics from the University of Maryland, and tutorials developed at the University of Washington
http://www.compadre.org/PER/items/detail.cfm?ID=13266
http://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=13266&DocID=3795http://www.compadre.org/PER/bulletinboard/Thread.cfm?ID=13266Quantum Physics/Probability, Waves, and InterferenceFri, 06 Jun 2014 12:58:21 EST