Investigating Student Difficulties with Dirac Notation Documents

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Investigating Student Difficulties with Dirac Notation 

written by Chandralekha Singh and Emily Marshman

Quantum mechanics is challenging even for advanced undergraduate and graduate students. Dirac notation is a convenient notation used extensively in quantum mechanics. We have been investigating the difficulties that the advanced undergraduate and graduate students have with Dirac notation. We administered written free response and multiple-choice questions to students and also conducted semi-structured individual interviews with 23 students using a think-aloud protocol to obtain a better understanding of the rationale behind their responses. We find that many students struggle with Dirac notation and they are not consistent in using this notation across various questions in a given test. In particular, whether they answer questions involving Dirac notation correctly or not is context dependent.

Published February 1, 2014
Last Modified January 31, 2014

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