The latest issue of Physics Today has a freely available article that, under the title Improving students’ understanding of quantum mechanics, gives a very interesting analysis of student’s difficulties when faced with university courses in Quantum Mechanics:

Extensive testing and interviews demonstrate that a significant fraction of advanced undergraduate and beginning graduate students, even after one or two full years of instruction in quantum mechanics, still are not proficient at those functional skills. They often possess deep-rooted misconceptions about such features as the meaning and significance of stationary states, the meaning of an expectation value, properties of wavefunctions, and quantum dynamics. Even students who excel at solving technically difficult questions are often unable to answer qualitative versions of the same questions.

The article goes on describing little problems posed to students and how they revealed fundamental misconceptions (if you know a bit about QM you may find interesting to try your hand at them too), and proposing ways of improving their understanding by means of interactive software and tutorials (more fun ahead). Recommended.

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This entry was posted on July 28, 2006 at 11:23 pm and is filed under Quantum Mechanics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
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July 29, 2006 at 6:13 pm |

Teaching quantum mechanicsPhysics Musings points to a Physics Today article about common misconceptions of quantum mechanics students. This is a topic dear to my heart, as I hope someday to teach the subject myself.

I have a lot of ideas about what to include and how to presen…

July 31, 2006 at 11:31 am |

That’s the stuff I am dealing with on a daily basis for I can’t remember how many years.

Before you can teach quantum mechanics (as I do) to undergraduates (and even the last two higher secondary grades) you’ve got to have a solid understanding of what it all amounts to. If the teachers don’t have it, where are the students supposed to get it? I could go on indefinitely but I’ll spare you that. Check out my blog http://koantum.wordpress.com/ (especially the categories “Teaching QM” and “Quantum semantics”) or visit my site http://thisquantumworld.com

January 24, 2007 at 10:18 pm |

[…] Physics Musings points to a Physics Today article about common misconceptions of quantum mechanics students. This is a topic dear to my heart, as I hope someday to teach the subject myself. […]