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Abstract Title: No room for error: Students’ perception of measurements in quantum mechanics
Abstract: Compared to what is known about student understanding of experimental data in classical mechanics, it is unclear how students think about measurements and uncertainty in experimental data from quantum mechanical systems. We conducted semi-structured interviews with 20 advanced physics students to test how they interpret variability in data from hypothetical experiments in classical and quantum mechanics. We found that in the quantum context, most students interpret all variability in the data as irreducible and inherent to the theory. While acknowledging the influence of experimenter error, confounding variables, and limited resolution of instruments in classical mechanics, many students did not recognize the influence of such effects in quantum mechanics. Some students expressed the view that there are inherently fewer confounding variables in quantum mechanics and the instruments used are more precise. We derive tentative implications for instruction and propose to test the influence of framing on responses to our interview protocol.
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster Presentation
Session Time: Poster Session III
Poster Number: C47
Contributed Paper Record: Contributed Paper Information
Contributed Paper Download: Download Contributed Paper

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Martin M. Stein
Laboratory of Atomic and Solid State Physics, Cornell University
245 East Avenue
Ithaca, NY 14850
Phone: 6072622938
Co-Author(s)
and Co-Presenter(s)
Courtney White, Department of Physics, California State University Fullerton, 800 N. State College Blvd., Fullerton, CA, 92831
Gina Passante, Department of Physics, California State University Fullerton, 800 N. State College Blvd., Fullerton, CA, 92831
N.G. Holmes, Laboratory of Atomic and Solid State Physics, Cornell University, 245 East Avenue, Ithaca, NY, 14853