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Abstract Title: Students' choices when solving expectation value problems
Abstract: In quantum mechanics, one is often interested in the expectation value (or average) of different quantities.  It is possible to find expectation values for many different physical systems, for example the energy or position of a particle in the infinite square well, the z-component of spin for an electron, or the angular momentum of an electron in a hydrogen atom.  In addition to the different physical contexts where the expectation value can be calculated, there are several methods one can use to solve for the expectation value.  Depending on the information given in the problem, it might be easiest to solve using an integral, matrix mathematics, or a finite summation.  In this work we analyze student responses to expectation value exam questions in several different physical contexts from several institutions, with a goal of determining which calculation methods and representations students choose most frequently, why they make those choices, and if some methods are more likely to result in correct answers.
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster Presentation
Session Time: Poster Session III
Poster Number: C61
Contributed Paper Record: Contributed Paper Information
Contributed Paper Download: Download Contributed Paper

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Gina Passante
California State University Fullerton
Physics Department
800 N. State College Blvd.
Fullerton, CA 92831
Phone: 6572787403
and Co-Presenter(s)
Steven Pollock, University of Colorado, Boulder
Homeyra Sadaghiani, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

Contributed Poster

Contributed Poster: Download the Contributed Poster