Investigating the influence of visualization on student understanding of quantum superposition
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Visualizations in interactive computer simulations are a powerful tool to help students develop productive mental models, particularly in the case of quantum phenomena that have no classical analogue. The QuVis Quantum Mechanics Visualization Project develops research-based interactive simulations for the learning and teaching of quantum mechanics. We describe efforts to refine the visual representation of a single-photon superposition state in the QuVis simulations. We developed various depictions of a photon incident on a beam splitter, and investigated their influence on student thinking through individual interviews. Outcomes from this study led to the incorporation of a revised visualization in all QuVis single-photon simulations. In-class trials in 2013 and 2014 using the Interferometer Experiments simulation in an introductory quantum physics course were used for a comparative study of the initial and revised visualizations. The class that used the revised visualization showed a lower frequency of incorrect ideas about quantum superposition, such as the photon splitting into two half-energy components.
Kohnle , A , Baily , C & Ruby , S 2015 , Investigating the influence of visualization on student understanding of quantum superposition . in P V Engelhardt , A D Churukian & D L Jones (eds) , Physics Education Research Conference 2014 . PER Conference series , American Association of Physics Teachers , pp. 139-142 , Physics Education Research Conference 2014 , Minneapolis, MN , United States , 30-31 July . DOI: 10.1119/perc.2014.pr.031conference
Physics Education Research Conference 2014
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