Goldhaber_QMAT_PERC09 - Transforming Upper-Division Quantum...

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Unformatted text preview: Transforming Upper-Division Quantum Mechanics: Learning Goals and Assessment Steve Goldhaber, Steven Pollock, Mike Dubson, Paul Beale and Katherine Perkins Department of Physics, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado 80309, USA Abstract. In order to help students overcome documented difficulties learning quantum mechanics (QM) concepts, we have transformed our upper-division QM I course using principles of learning theory and active engagement. Key components of this process include establishing learning goals and developing a valid, reliable conceptual assessment tool to measure the extent to which students achieve these learning goals. The course learning goals were developed with broad faculty input, and serve as the basis for the design of the course assessment tool. The development of the assessment tool has included significant faculty input and feedback, twenty-one student interviews, a review of PER literature, and administration of the survey to two semesters of QM I students as well as to a cohort of graduate students. Here, we discuss this ongoing development process and present initial findings from our QM class for the past two semesters. Keywords: physics education research, quantum mechanics, assessment PACS:,01.40.Fk,01.30.Cc,01.40.Di INTRODUCTION For the last decade, there has been a new focus in physics education research aimed at undergraduate quantum me- chanics (QM).[1] In recent years a growing body of ev- idence has shown that students experience a number of difficulties learning upper-division QM[2, 3]. In order to address these difficulties, the physics department at CU- Boulder, using findings from lower-division PER[4] as well as early results from other reform efforts[3], initi- ated an effort to reform the QM I course. Normally taken by 35 - 50 junior physics and engineering physics majors, this course is the first part of a two-semester sequence. Topics include the Schrödinger equation, 1-D solutions, operator methods, angular momentum and the hydrogen atom. Classroom instruction using the new methods be- gan in the Spring 2008 semester. Since then, the follow- ing changes have been made to the class structure: • The authors and colleagues have developed over 250 concept test questions and other activities to promote student engagement during lectures.[8] • The course has adopted an optional weekly recita- tion session where students work through a tuto- rial in small groups. Each hour-long session is fa- cilitated by the course instructor and a learning assistant.[5] A few of the tutorials were developed by the authors with the majority coming from the University of Washington.[3, 6] • Homework problems were augmented to include more justification of reasoning, estimation, and tasks requiring students to make connections between mathematical representations, phys- ical meaning and other representations (e.g., graphical).[7] • Instructor office-hours were replaced with a coop- erative, weekly session where students worked in...
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This note was uploaded on 02/27/2012 for the course PHYSICS 3220 taught by Professor Stevepollock during the Fall '08 term at Colorado.

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Goldhaber_QMAT_PERC09 - Transforming Upper-Division Quantum...

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