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Enhancing student visual understanding of the time evolution of quantum systems

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Author(s)

Gina Passante, Antje Kohnle

School/Research organisations

Abstract

Time dependence is of fundamental importance for the description of quantum systems, but is particularly difficult for students to master. We describe the development and evaluation of a combined simulation-tutorial to support the development of visual understanding of time dependence in quantum mechanics. The associated interactive simulation shows the time dependence of an energy eigenstate and a superposition state, and how the time dependence of the probability density arises from that of the wave function. In order to assess transitions in student thinking, we developed a framework to characterize student responses in terms of real and complex mathematical reasoning and classical and quantum visual reasoning. The results of pre-, mid-, and post-tests indicate that the simulation-tutorial supports the development of visual understanding of time dependence, and that visual reasoning is correlated with improved student performance on a question relating to the time evolution of the wave function and the probability density. The results also indicate that the analogy of a classical standing wave for the infinite well energy eigenfunctions may be problematic in cueing incorrect ideas of time dependence.

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Details

Original languageEnglish
Article number010110
Number of pages14
JournalPhysical Review Physics Education Research
Volume15
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 13 Feb 2019

    Research areas

  • Conceptual framework, Mechanics, Simulations

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