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Abstract Title: Supporting and analyzing mathematical sense-making for learning in quantum mechanics
Abstract: Integrating mathematical formalism and conceptual understanding of physics is an essential part of learning physics. However, it can be tempting, in physics learning and in instruction, to just "plug and chug" through the math and leave the sense-making for later, or to assume that meaning comes along for the ride with algorithmic proficiency. We focus on the domain of quantum mechanics and investigate how we can help students to engage in mathematical sense-making, broadly defined as seeking coherence between mathematical formalism and conceptual reasoning while manipulating mathematical systems (e.g. equations or graphs). We present preliminary results of middle and upper division Modern Physics/Quantum Mechanics students working through problems selected to elicit and support mathematical sense-making. Outcomes include identifying key problems that promote mathematical sense-making, categorization schemes of the ways in which students engage in mathematical sense-making, and particular student strengths and challenges in approaching physical reasoning through mathematics.
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster Presentation

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Jessica Hoehn
Department of Physics, University of Colorado Boulder
390 UCB
Boulder, CO 80309
and Co-Presenter(s)
Julian Gifford (Department of Physics, University of Colorado Boulder)
Noah D. Finkelstein (Department of Physics, University of Colorado Boulder)
Erin Ronayne Sohr (Department of Physics, University of Maryland)
Ayush Gupta (Department of Physics, University of Maryland)