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Assessment of Quantum Mechanical Concepts

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

October 19, 2019

Conference Session

Engineering Physics and Physics Division Technical Session 1

Tagged Division

Engineering Physics and Physics

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Paper Authors


Robert A. Ross University of Detroit Mercy

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Robert A. Ross is a Professor of Physics in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry at the University of Detroit Mercy. His research interests include semiconductor devices and physics pedagogy. Ross received his B.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Physics from Wayne State University in Detroit.

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The University of XX offers a comprehensive engineering program with degrees in mechanical, civil, robotics and mechatronic systems, electrical, computer, environmental, and architectural engineering. The College of Engineering & Science has a well-established co-operative education program with a long history of placing graduates into the workforce upon graduation.

Engineers take a comprehensive physics sequence during the winter semester of their freshman year and fall semester of their sophomore year. The college offers Modern Physics with Device Applications as a junior level physics course. The course is required of electrical engineers and offered as an elective to other engineering students. The class covers introductory topics in quantum mechanics leading to a basic understanding of the behavior of charge carriers in solids. In addition, students are introduced to entanglement and quantum computation through computer simulation. We believe that a brief introduction to these topics helps students understand the relationship between operators and the results of a measurement of the wavefunction.

Over the past several years we have assessed students in the course with the Quantum Mechanics Conceptual Survey. This instrument was designed to be used as a general survey of students’ conceptual understanding. One of the interesting aspects of this instrument is that engineering students in modern physics courses were considered during its development and validation. In this paper we will analyze our students’ conceptual understanding of quantum mechanical concepts and compare them with those students that participated in the development of the survey. Responses to individual questions will be analyzed and student difficulties will be identified. We believe readers will be surprised as to how persistent certain student misconceptions appear to be.

Ross, R. A. (2019, June), Assessment of Quantum Mechanical Concepts Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32130

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