Chandralekha Sing - University of Pittsburgh
Chandralekha Singh - University of Pittsburgh
Title: Improving Students' Understanding of Quantum Mechanics
Abstract: Despite our best and most sincere efforts, there is an alarming disconnect between what we teach and what students learn and understand. Learning quantum mechanics is especially challenging, in part due to the abstract nature of the subject. We have been conducting investigations of the difficulties that students have in learning quantum mechanics. To help improve student understanding of quantum concepts, we are developing quantum interactive learning tutorials (QuILTs) as well as tools for peer-instruction. The goal of QuILTs and peer-instruction tools is to actively engage students in the learning process and to help them build links between the formalism and the conceptual aspects of quantum physics without compromising the technical content. They focus on helping students integrate qualitative and quantitative understanding, confront and resolve their misconceptions and difficulties, and discriminate between concepts that are often confused. In this talk, I will give examples from my research in physics education of how students' prior knowledge relevant for quantum mechanics can be assessed, and how learning tools can be designed to help students develop a robust knowledge structure and critical thinking skills.
University Faculty Workshop
Title: Research-based Tools and Tips for Teaching Quantum Mechanics
Abstract: In this workshop we will discuss the common difficulties students have in learning quantum mechanics and how the use of research-based learning tools can reduce these difficulties. These learning tools include Quantum interactive learning tutorials (QuILTs), concept-tests for peer instruction, and reflective problems which are conceptual in nature. QuILTs are based upon research in physics education and employ active-learning strategies and Open Source Physics visualization tools. They attempt to bridge the gap between the abstract quantitative formalism of quantum mechanics and the qualitative understanding necessary to explain and predict diverse physical phenomena. This workshop is targeted to instructors who would like to supplement their existing course material with research-based field tested tools that provide support to students and a high degree of interactivity. Participants will work in small groups on research-based interactive tools that incorporate paper-pencil tasks and computer simulations. We will discuss the general pedagogical issues in the design of the learning tools and how they can be adapted to individualized curricula. Some learning tools deal with contemporary topics such as quantum teleportation that can be taught using simple two-level systems. Participants are encouraged to bring their own laptops. This work is supported in part by the National Science Foundation.