Jan 29, 2018 4:00 pm - Library Community Room (across from Bookmark Cafe) - Colloquium
Chris Porter - Ohio State
Physics Education Research at the Graduate Level: Graduate Students’ Experiences and Misunderstandings

Physics education research (PER) has provided us with a wealth of data on student retention, their conceptual understanding, and skills essential to their success at the introductory level. Upper division and graduate-level coursework has not been as widely studied by the PER community. But such studies are integral to our field, as these are the courses most densely populated by future experts and even future faculty. A current study at the Ohio State University is seeking to study graduate student pathways toward a Ph. D., factors affecting graduate student retention, and misunderstandings that persist through the graduate physics core courses. This talk will provide some context for the project by giving some historical data on enrollment and attrition, and more current data on attitudes and motivation. The focus of the talk will be the misunderstandings in graduate quantum mechanics, uncovered by pre-post testing of three cohorts, and efforts to improve conceptual understanding through, among other things, guided group work sessions. Misunderstandings related to several topics will be discussed, including among others mathematical skills, wave functions, and measurement.