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Courses Quantum Mechanics Courses

  1. Aug 8, 2009 #1
    I hate to post two threads in a row, but I have too many physics questions going in my head to sleep. My TA last semester told us he was taking a QM course and told us his uncurved class average was a 37. This leads me to think that no undergrad can grasp QM. Now I know only the most basic of concepts involving QM, is it that difficult to understand or is it just very difficult to explain? If the class average of 4th year undergrads is 37 that either means the teacher is awful, or the subject matter is just on another level of comprehension.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 8, 2009 #2


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    Sure undergrads can grasp it. I didn't when I took quantum I, but it was starting to make sense around quantum II (grad quantum I was a pain again, but grad quantum II wasn't so bad). And plenty of people in my class understood what was going on. Maybe that professor just had their expectations set a little too high for the level of the class.
  4. Aug 8, 2009 #3


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    Most likely the professor is bad (or extremely demanding), there is something screwy with the grading, or the class was simply a poor group of students for some reason. In my undergrad QM class, it was god awful and we didn't do too well. However, a year later I took linear algebra and ODE's. Looking back, if I had taken linear and ODE's and THEN taken quantum, it would have been a cakewalk. It really is just a big exercise in linear algebra.
  5. Aug 8, 2009 #4
    Everybody in my year did just about as well in QM as anything else, looks like teacher is bad or the TA is spinning yarns...
  6. Aug 8, 2009 #5
    Maybe it's just that QM tends to be shrouded in some kind of awe. Personally I don't think it's all that terribly difficult. A lot of advanced physics, whether classical or quantum in nature, is difficult to understand the first time. This, I think, is why we have grad school. Once you do a lot of quantum problems, it's just as easy (or hard) as any other physics topic.

    Incidentally, when I was taking undergrad quantum, my grade was approximately a 52%, which turned out to be an A-. In advanced undergrad and graduate courses, professors seem to give everyone a low numerical grade.
  7. Aug 9, 2009 #6
    It is so unfair to curve the classes. If you don't get 80-90% you shouldn't have the highest grade. Even giving passing marks for 50% is a stretch in my opinion, why should a person pass who have proven to not understand half of the material?
  8. Aug 9, 2009 #7
    Well for one, students in a class tend to obey a reasonably normal distribution. Unless you've genuinely got a class full of dummies, an average class grade of 50% suggests that the grading system is not calibrated such that 50% represents poor understanding of the material. I, for example, got an A- from getting half of the class points. I ended up doing well in my graduate quantum mechanics classes, as well as in other courses that require quantum mechanics (e.g. nuclear and particle physics). Doesn't seem to me like the system is broken.
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