Helping Students Learn Quantum Mechanics using Research-Validated Learning Tools Documents

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Helping Students Learn Quantum Mechanics using Research-Validated Learning Tools 

written by Paul Justice

The development and implementation of validated clicker question sequences, a research-based instructional strategy commonly implemented in physics courses due to its ease of implementation, has shown promise in improving student learning in upper level quantum mechanics. In this dissertation, I discuss a framework for the development, validation and in-class implementation of clicker questions sequences (CQS) and apply that framework to help advanced undergraduate students learn quantum mechanics in the context of the Stern-Gerlach experiment, Larmor precession of spin, addition of angular momentum, and concepts involving Fermi energy, total electronic energy of a free electron gas, and the Fermi-Dirac distribution function, several of which take advantage of previously validated Quantum Interactive Learning Tutorials (QuILT). In-class evaluation of the CQSs using peer instruction is discussed. This dissertation also explores the impact of increased mathematical rigor in a QuILT on students' conceptual understanding of quantum optics. In particular, student performance is discussed after engaging with 2 versions of a QuILT which uses a guided inquiry-based approach to help students learn quantum eraser concepts in the context of the Mach-Zehnder Interferometer (MZI): one version primarily qualitative and the other involving both conceptual and quantitative aspects. The implications of the extent to which students learned from the two versions of the QuILT is discussed within the Integration of Conceptual and Quantitative Understanding in Physics (ICQUIP) framework, which emphasizes appropriate integration of conceptual and quantitative aspects to equip students with functional knowledge and skills. Finally, I discuss instructional pragmatism and how instructors should view teaching as a process and innovate in their courses using a variety of research-based instructional pedagogies to improve student learning.

Published July 16, 2019
Last Modified March 1, 2023