M.C. Wittmann, R.N. Steinberg, E.F. Redish and the University of Maryland Physics Education Research Group
2: Moden Physics
If we demand of our students that they develop an explicit conceptual understanding of the physics, we must also test this understanding. The questions below are a sample of questions we have asked in our courses. We have used a variety of question formats to gain many different views of students understanding:
In some cases, we have provided multiple questions on a single topic.
(To view the classroom materials, you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader. Click here if you do not have it installed on your computer. Note that the CD contains MS Word versions of these questions for further editing. See the folder "NewModel" --> "examques" for further information.)
Students must interpret the physics of the photoelectric effect and the effect of changes to a simple system in this free response question.
In question 1, students answer a free response question in which they describe the effects of changes to mass and energy of particles in a two slit experiment. In question 2 (an essay question), students must describe wave and particle properties of electrons, giving evidence for each description.
Students must discuss connections between experimental observation and theory, while using a model of energy level transitions in these similar free response questions.
Bound state energies
Students answering essay questions must reconcile seemingly contradictory elements of the physics they are learning. We have asked at least one essay question on every examination to encourage this skill in students.
Potential energy diagrams and classical probability
Students use models from class to discuss classical potential wells and the probability of finding particles in different regions of space.
Shape of the wave function
Students must choose the appropriate wave function for a variety of bound and free states in question 1, a multiple-choice, multiple-response format question. In question 2, students use the same reasoning to answer questions about quantum tunneling.
In question 1, students are asked both for mathematical knowledge and interpretations of the representations used in quantum tunneling questions. In question 2, students discuss quantum tunneling using di asks students to analyze possible wave function shapes and determine whether they match the given potential barrier.
Question 1 is a multiple-choice-and-explain format question that helps test how students think about band diagrams. Question 2 is an essay question on the use of semi-classical and band diagrams in desribing physics.
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