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Abstract Title: Student Reasoning about Eigenvectors and Eigenvalues from a Resources Perspective
Abstract: Eigentheory is an important concept for modeling quantum mechanical systems. Research findings indicate that eigentheory is conceptually complex for students to deeply understand. The focus of this research is students' reasoning about eigenvectors and eigenvalues of 2x2 matrices as they transition into quantum mechanics. The data consist of video, transcript, and written work from individual, semi-structured interviews with 17 volunteer students enrolled in a quantum mechanics course from one of two universities. Responses were analyzed using a Resources (Hammer, 2000) framework, which allowed us to characterize nuances in how students understand various aspects of an eigentheory problem. We share three subthemes of results: interpreting the equations graphically, interpreting the equals sign, and determining solutions. These results are consistent with and extend previous research findings regarding not only how students reason about eigenvectors and eigenvalues but also about how students make sense of an equation, its components, and its solutions.
Abstract Type: Juried Talk
Parallel Session: Juried Talks II
Session Time: Parallel Sessions Cluster II
Room: Soldier Creek

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Megan Wawro
Virginia Tech University
Co-Author(s)
and Co-Presenter(s)
Warren Christensen, Kevin Watson