Categorization of quantum mechanics problems by professors and students

Shih Yin Lin, Chandralekha Singh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

43 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We discuss the categorization of 20 quantum mechanics problems by physics professors and undergraduate students from two honours-level quantum mechanics courses. Professors and students were asked to categorize the problems based upon similarity of solution. We also had individual discussions with professors who categorized the problems. Faculty members' categorizations were overall rated higher than those of students by three faculty members who evaluated all of the categorizations. The categories created by faculty members were more diverse compared to the categories they created for a set of introductory mechanics problems. Some faculty members noted that the categorization of introductory physics problems often involves identifying fundamental principles relevant for the problem, whereas in upper-level undergraduate quantum mechanics problems, it mainly involves identifying concepts and procedures required to solve the problem. Moreover, physics faculty members who evaluated others' categorizations expressed that the task was very challenging and they sometimes found another person's categorization to be better than their own. They also rated some concrete categories such as 'hydrogen atom' or 'simple harmonic oscillator' higher than other concrete categories such as 'infinite square well' or 'free particle'.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-68
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Journal of Physics
Volume31
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2010 Jan 1

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All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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