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Dr. Robert Mann

Testing a diagram tool for students learning particle physics

Dr. Robert Mann is studying the use of the Feynman Diagrams Tool in his Introduction to Particle Physics class. The tool assists students to learn how to construct and visualize diagrams invented by Richard Feynman more than 50 years ago. Pictorially, they express interactions between subatomic particles and allow a visualization of the processes. Each is constructed according to a set of rules that in turn depend upon the theory describing the particles and their interactions. While the diagrams are easy to see, students often find it challenging to learn how to construct them. The tool software knows the rules and the math so students are able to draw diagrams using the computer with this additional level of guidance. How the tool impacts student learning outcomes will be assessed through performance on course assignments, a mid-term and two final exam questions. A questionnaire will be administered to get student feedback on learning experiences with the tool. Dr. Mann plans to present the results of this study to colleagues in a forthcoming conference.