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PERC 2015 Abstract Detail Page

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Abstract Title: Investigating Student Understanding of Perturbation Theory and the Inner Products of Functions
Abstract: We investigate the extent to which students can qualitatively determine the affect of a perturbation to the energy of well-known eigenfunctions. After lecture instruction we find that many students cannot determine some important features of the first-order correction to the energy when provided with the appropriate equation. We examine the possibility that this failure may stem from a lack of understanding of the inner product, in particular, how to determine the inner product of functions represented graphically. We have found that some students are unable to find the inner product of graphical functions in contexts outside of quantum mechanics.  However, the results are even worse for similar questions in the context perturbation theory or other quantum mechanical questions requiring the use of inner products.
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster Presentation

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Gina Passante
University of Washington
and Co-Presenter(s)
Tong Wan,  University of Washington
Paul J. Emigh,  University of Washington
Peter S. Shaffer, University of Washington