Quantum Mechanics Survey (QMS)

Developed by Chandralekha Singh and Guangtian Zhu

Purpose To assess students’ conceptual understanding of quantum mechanics, specifically their proficiency with the formalism of quantum mechanics in 1D.
Format Multiple-choice
Duration 50 min
Focus Modern / Quantum Content knowledge (wave functions, measurement, expectation values, Hamiltonian, time dependence, probability, infinite square well, finite square well, harmonic oscillator, 1D tunneling)
Level Graduate, Upper-level
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Sample questions from the QMS:

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G. Zhu and C. Singh, Surveying students' understanding of quantum mechanics in one spatial dimension, Am. J. Phys. 80 (3), 252 (2012).
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Silver Validation
This is the second highest level of research validation, corresponding to at least 5 of the validation categories below.

Research Validation Summary

Based on Research Into:

  • Student thinking

Studied Using:

  • Student interviews
  • Expert review
  • Appropriate statistical analysis

Research Conducted:

  • At multiple institutions
  • By multiple research groups
  • Peer-reviewed publication

The multiple-choice questions on the QMS were developed based feedback from experts on important topics and a test blue print outlining the content and complexity of the questions. The multiple-choice answers were created using student responses to open-ended versions of the questions and research on student difficulties with relevant quantum mechanics topics. Students were also interviewed, and their feedback used to revise the questions. The test underwent expert review. The QMS was given to over 100 students at seven universities and appropriate statistical analyses of reliability, difficulty and discrimination were conducted. Reasonable values were found. The QMS has been tested with over 200 students at ten universities and results published in two peer-reviewed publications.


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Typical Results

Typical scores from Zhu and Singh 2012:

The average score on the QMS for 109 students from 7 universities (94 upper-level undergraduate students and 15 first-year graduate students) is 37.5%.

The latest version of the QMS, released in 2011, is version 18.