Student perceptions of math-physics interactions throughout spins-first quantum mechanics
One of the purported benefits of teaching a spins-first approach to quantum mechanics is that it allows students to build up quantum mechanical ideas and learn postulates before moving to the more complicated mathematics used in the context of wave functions. In order to begin to explore this claim in a spins-first course, a survey was developed and administered as an extra credit activity at three different universities. All three universities teach spins-first quantum mechanics with interactive methods. This work compares students' responses to identical questions about the relationship between and difficulty of math and physics from two administrations of the survey given at the ends of the spins and wave functions portions of the course. Results offer insight into students' perspectives about the nature and difficulty of mathematics in these two paradigms of quantum mechanics.