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Abstract Title: Sense-making with Inscriptions in Quantum Mechanics
Abstract: In this presentation, we focus on students' sense-making with a graphical representation commonly used in quantum mechanics textbooks; that of overlaid potential energy and wavefunction plots in the context of quantum well(s) and barriers. Previous research has pointed to a conflation of the energy and wavefunction axes as leading to common student difficulties in understanding phenomena such as tunneling. The existence of this difficulty has influenced QMCS survey items and design choices in several PhET simulations. We add to this research by investigating how students use and interact with this graphical representation while sense-making. Through fine-timescale analysis of video data from clinical interviews with engineering majors in a modern physics course, we document that the inscription can play both communicative and generative roles in the student's reasoning. We report the different ways in which the inscription gets embedded in students' reasoning and potential instructional implications.
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster Presentation

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Erin Ronayne Sohr
University of Maryland College Park
Physics Building
College Park, MD 2070
Phone: 4438123086
and Co-Presenter(s)
Benjamin W. Dreyfus, Ayush Gupta, Andrew Elby