Tutorials on thinking about quantum entities

The tutorials on thinking about quantum entities were developed at the University of Maryland and the University of Colorado, to support students in transforming their ontological conceptions about quantum phenomena: their sense of whether something is a particle, a wave, or some other kind of thing. In addition, the tutorials are intended to support students’ metacognitive awareness of their own ontological conceptions: thinking about their own thinking, and deciding which ontologies to use when. In most cases these tutorials are not designed to introduce new content, but can be used alongside other course materials and can help students be more reflective about the physics content.

Each tutorial is intended for an approximately 1-hour session. They are intended to be done in groups of 3-5 students discussing the questions in a group, with a facilitator circling among the groups. They are not intended for the answers to be written up and handed in, and in many cases there is not a single “correct” answer, but instructors might decide to give follow-up questions on homework and exams that build on the tutorial questions.

The tutorials were first designed to be used in a modern physics course for engineering students; however, in our beta testing we have also found that they have sparked fruitful discussions among physics majors.

These materials are “open-source”, and instructors are welcome to adapt them, but we strongly recommend reading the instructor guides for each tutorial before doing so, in order to understand the intent behind the tutorials and some of the results we have observed with students.

If you are interested in implementing or adapting any of these tutorials for your course, or if you have any questions, please contact Ayush Gupta at ayush at umd dot edu.

Tutorial 1: Waves, Photons, and Energy

Tutorial 2: Where was the photon?

Tutorial 3: Plane waves and wave packets

Tutorial 4: Particle in a box

Tutorial 5: Tunneling

Tutorial 6: Electron in a wire

Tutorial 7: Energy and position

Tutorial 8: Doppler cooling

Tutorial 9: Zeeman effect

Tutorial 10: LEDs

ZIP files

  • Download the Complete set of pdf tutorials:
  • Download the Complete set of doc tutorials:
  • Download the Complete set of pdf instructor guides:
  • Download the Complete set of doc instructor guides:

This work is supported by NSF-DUE 13-22734 and 13-23129.