Homeyra Sadaghiani
The Ohio State University
Students' Conceptual and Mathematical Difficulties with Quantum Wave
Functions
In contrast to a classical particle, localized at a point, a wave function
spreads out in space. This and the statistical interpretation of the wave
function are disturbing for students. As part of an ongoing investigation
of students' difficulties learning quantum mechanics, we bring examples of
students' common difficulties with the wave function. These difficulties
include: recognizing the wave function as a probability distribution, the
interpretation of the sketch of wave functions in regions with different
potentials, distinguishing the wave functions from energy eigenstates, and
mathematical difficulties involving the graphs of wave functions.
This talk has two main parts. The first part discusses students'
conceptual difficulties with the understanding of quantum wave functions.
The second part explores students' mathematical difficulties with the
representations of wave functions.
*Supported in part by NSF DUE #0088906