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Abstract Title: Transitioning from Dirac to Function Notation in Spins-first Quantum Mechanics
Abstract: In a spins-first quantum mechanics course, students are first introduced to discrete, spin-1/2 quantum systems. In this context, state vectors are represented using both Dirac and matrix notation. Later in the course, there is a transition to continuous systems where wave functions are used to describe the quantum state. This transition is considered very challenging for many students. We investigate the resources students use when attempting to work with wave functions for the first time. Data were collected from questions given before and after instruction where students are asked to interpret the same probability density function represented in both Dirac and wave function notation. Responses suggest that students might treat the two equivalent expressions differently, effectively disconnecting the two notations. One salient feature of Dirac notation is the presence of a probability template, leading to students misinterpreting the probability density as a probability value.
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster Presentation
Session Time: Poster Session I
Poster Number: A4

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Anthony Arruda
California State University, Fullerton
and Co-Presenter(s)
Gina Passante, California State University, Fullerton

Contributed Poster

Contributed Poster: Download the Contributed Poster