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An Inventory to Assess Students’ Knowledge of Second Law Concepts

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Thermodynamics, Fluids and Heat Transfer II

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.174.1 - 24.174.18

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Paper Authors


Timothy J. Jacobs Texas A&M University

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Dr. Timothy J. Jacobs is an associate professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Texas A&M University. His research interests include thermodynamics, internal combustion engines, and pedagogical improvements to content and integration of design in engineering science courses. His teaching interests include thermodynamics, internal combustion engines, and experimental design.

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Jerald A. Caton Texas A&M University

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Paper Title: An Inventory to Assess Students’ Knowledge of Second Law ConceptsJournal / Conference: ASEE 2014 ConferenceAuthors: T. Jacobs, J. Caton (Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas)Objective of Effort / Study: Design a concept inventory that assesses students’ knowledge andconceptualization of second law concepts.Objectives of Paper:1) Highlight the need to design a second law concept inventory2) Describe the process of developing the concept inventory (deciding what the importantconcepts to capture are).3) Provide the concept inventory4) Assess the effectiveness of the concept inventoryProposed Abstract:Concept inventories are tools to help instructors and students assess student knowledge andretention of important concepts for various courses. In thermodynamics, several conceptinventories exist that center on energy, heat transfer, and temperature principles; the authorswere not able to find a concept inventory centered solely on second law concepts. A second lawconcept inventory is important since the interaction of entropy and energy is an important skillset for students to have when pursuing design and development of advanced energy conversiontechnology. The objective of this paper is to describe the development of a second law conceptinventory and assess the effectiveness of the concept inventory in terms of its robustness andclarity. The paper describes the development of the concept inventory, discusses modificationsthat were made based on initial assessments and feedback from students, and provides basic dataon the clarity and effectiveness of the concept inventory.Proposed Outline:I. AbstractII. Introduction a. Motivation b. Background c. Objective(s)III. Need for a second law conceptIV. Process of choosing concepts to be includedV. Description of concept inventoryVI. Assessment of concept inventory effectivenessVII. ConclusionsVIII. Acknowledgements (NSF, Advisory Panel, others)

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