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Learning and retention of quantum concepts with different teaching methods

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Author(s): Louis Deslauriers | Carl Wieman

Journal: Physical review special topics. Physics education research
ISSN 1554-9178

Volume: 7;
Issue: 1;
Date: 2011;
Original page

ABSTRACT
We measured mastery and retention of conceptual understanding of quantum mechanics in a modern physics course. This was studied for two equivalent cohorts of students taught with different pedagogical approaches using the Quantum Mechanics Conceptual Survey. We measured the impact of pedagogical approach both on the original conceptual learning and on long-term retention. The cohort of students who had a very highly rated traditional lecturer scored 19% lower than the equivalent cohort that was taught using interactive engagement methods. However, the amount of retention was very high for both cohorts, showing only a few percent decrease in scores when retested 6 and 18 months after completion of the course and with no exposure to the material in the interim period. This high level of retention is in striking contrast to the retention measured for more factual learning from university courses and argues for the value of emphasizing conceptual learning.

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