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written by Michael C. Wittmann
This presentation contains the results of a research study on misconceptions students have concerning wave mechanics and motion. The results indicate that many students have incorrect mental models of waves and use these erroneous models to interpret problems related to wave mechanics.

This study also tested instructional methods to help students overcome their difficulties, which represent an obstacle to learning quantum mechanics.  Student thinking on classical wave motion and the related mathematics is examined as well.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Education Foundations
- Alternative Conceptions
Modern Physics
- General
Oscillations & Waves
- Wave Motion
= Interference and Diffraction
= Longitudinal Pulses and Waves
= Phase and Group Velocity
= Transfer of Energy in Waves
= Transverse Pulses and Waves
Quantum Physics
- Probability, Waves, and Interference
- High School
- Lower Undergraduate
- Upper Undergraduate
- Instructional Material
= Best practice
= Instructor Guide/Manual
- Reference Material
= Report
Appropriate Courses Categories Ratings
- Physics First
- Conceptual Physics
- Algebra-based Physics
- AP Physics
- Assessment
- New teachers
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© 1997 Michael Wittmann
PER, Power Point, physics education research, report, student thinking, wave mechanics, waves, waves misconceptions
Record Creator:
Metadata instance created June 17, 2005 by Blake Laing
Record Updated:
October 28, 2011 by Caroline Hall
Last Update
when Cataloged:
September 18, 1997
Other Collections:

This resource is part of a Physics Front Topical Unit.

Topic: Wave Energy
Unit Title: Teaching About Waves and Wave Energy

This Power Point presentation condenses the results of a study on student misconceptions about wave mechanics and motion.  The results indicate that many students have incorrect mental models of waves and use these erroneous models to interpret/solve problems.  The researchers also tested teaching methods to see what may help students overcome these difficulties.  A must-read for the teacher of advanced students who will study calculus-based physics in college.

Link to Unit:
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Record Link
AIP Format
M. Wittmann, (1997), WWW Document, (http://www.physics.umd.edu/perg/papers/wittmann/seminartalk/index.htm).
M. Wittmann, Student Difficulties with Wave Concepts, (1997), <http://www.physics.umd.edu/perg/papers/wittmann/seminartalk/index.htm>.
APA Format
Wittmann, M. (1997, September 18). Student Difficulties with Wave Concepts. Retrieved January 27, 2022, from http://www.physics.umd.edu/perg/papers/wittmann/seminartalk/index.htm
Chicago Format
Wittmann, Michael. Student Difficulties with Wave Concepts. September 18, 1997. http://www.physics.umd.edu/perg/papers/wittmann/seminartalk/index.htm (accessed 27 January 2022).
MLA Format
Wittmann, Michael. Student Difficulties with Wave Concepts. 1997. 18 Sep. 1997. 27 Jan. 2022 <http://www.physics.umd.edu/perg/papers/wittmann/seminartalk/index.htm>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Author = "Michael Wittmann", Title = {Student Difficulties with Wave Concepts}, Volume = {2022}, Number = {27 January 2022}, Month = {September 18, 1997}, Year = {1997} }
Refer Export Format

%A Michael Wittmann %T Student Difficulties with Wave Concepts %D September 18, 1997 %U http://www.physics.umd.edu/perg/papers/wittmann/seminartalk/index.htm %O text/html

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source %A Wittmann, Michael %D September 18, 1997 %T Student Difficulties with Wave Concepts %V 2022 %N 27 January 2022 %8 September 18, 1997 %9 text/html %U http://www.physics.umd.edu/perg/papers/wittmann/seminartalk/index.htm

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