29 Jun 2015

Introduction to Miller Indices

Web Resources and Apps

Submitted by Vanessa McCaffrey, Albion College
Categories
Description: 

Towards the end of the semester, when we were starting to read more of the primary literature, I realized that the Miller Indices were present in most of the papers that I wanted to discuss. However, I couldn't find any good resources in textbooks that would help to explain what these were. I found this online resource through the University of Cambridge that is engaging, interactive and concise.

Learning Goals: 

The tutorial website does an amazing goal of outling the specific learning goals here.

In brief, the learning goals for student are:

  • Gain an understanding of Miller Indices
  • Given a set of numbers, generate the unit cell plane
  • Determine the set of Miller Indices given a plane in a unit cell
  • Describe how Miller Indices can be used in the "real world" through literature examples
Implementation Notes: 

I sent the website out to the students about a week before class and asked them to read the first eight sections (through "Bracket Conventions") and also the section on "Practical Uses". I told them that we would discuss the material in class and then go through some of the Games in the "Questions" section. I intentionally left out the section that dealt with the Weiss Zone Law. 

There was no formal homework assignment associated with the assignment.

During class, I pulled the website up and we went through each of the sections. Once I felt that everyone had had a chance to ask any questions on each of the pages, I then pulled up the "Questions" and we answered the drag-and-drop questions as a class.

I called on students individually and had them answer questions in front of the class (we had been doing this all semester and there were only eight students). I answered the first questions and got several of them wrong, so they felt much more comfortable making mistakes.

When doing this again, I would use the entire tutorial, and not just selected sections.

Time Required: 
30 minutes
Evaluation
Evaluation Methods: 

I evaluated the students' understanding of and engagement in the material by two different methods. 

First, students received a participation grade. They were were required to ask questions on at least one of the pages and answer one of the games on the "Question" page. 

I evaluated their factual knowledge during literature discussions later in the semester.

There were no homework or exam questions that were specific to this material. However, this will change the next time and there will be some follow-up homework. I will post this HW assignment as a separate learning object when it is completed. 

 

Evaluation Results: 

Overall, the activity was a success. In the course evaluations at the end of the semester, students reported liking the website activities (I used several from the University of Cambridge DoITPoMS Teaching and Learning Packages throughout the semester) better than reading assignments that came from the book. They reported liking the animations and the hands-on learning.

In a later literature discussion (see related LO), students were able to answer questions about the peaks in the XRD and what the different numbers meant. 

Creative Commons License: 
Creative Commons Licence

Comments

Thanks for posting this, Vanessa. I feel like I have never taught Miller indices well, and by using this site today in my nanomaterials course, things went much better. 

The students will be reading articles for next week that are chock full of Miller indices, but today was also the first day of our class, ever, so we needed to ramp up fast.  Everyone built an fcc unit cell using a solid state model kit (the UW-MRSEC kind). Then I showed them images of different nanocrystal faces and we identified how they were derived from our unit cell models.  I drew all three types of planes on the board. Then we walked through just a small fraction of the website together, getting the gist of how the planes are labeled.  (I skipped negative hkl values, even.)

So it could have been in more detail, but we'll probably return to these concepts through the semester.  I was very glad to find this LO as I got ready for my class. 

Neat. I will make us of this activity in my spring course, and report back!

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