Faculty Disagreement about the Teaching of Quantum Mechanics Documents

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Faculty Disagreement about the Teaching of Quantum Mechanics 

written by Michael Dubson, Steve Goldhaber, Steven J. Pollock, and Katherine Perkins

To guide research-based transformation of upper-division physics classes, it is useful to identify learning goals that are broadly supported by the faculty. Our efforts to transform our junior-level E&M course have revealed a broad faculty consensus on the content of the course, if not the pedagogical approach. In contrast, we find a range of opinions on both the content and the pedagogy in junior-level QM. We surveyed 27 faculty about their approaches to teaching QM, and reviewed 20 quantum textbooks. Although there is broad agreement on the list and order of topics (Schrödinger equation to matrix methods and spin), we find substantial disagreement in several pedagogical aspects, including (1) the importance of presenting QM on an axiomatic basis (i.e. the postulates); (2) the treatment of measurement in QM (in particular, the collapse of the wave function); and (3) the physical interpretation of the wave function (matter wave vs. information wave vs. something else).

Published November 11, 2009
Last Modified October 5, 2009

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