June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
Educational Research and Methods
12.280.1 - 12.280.17
Assessing the Relationship Between Student Engagement and Performance in Thermodynamics – Phase 1
Many of the thermo-fluids courses, and in particular Thermodynamics, are often taught with traditional teaching methods and textbooks. Introductory thermodynamics, in particular, is prone to elicit a negative impression from students who perceive the subject as too abstract. Even though the topics covered often have a real-world basis they are generally simplified and only offer a superficial impression of industry applications. The result is that many students have excessive difficulty with the subject and do not develop a "feel" for the topic or the associated real-world equipment1,2. Unfortunately the relevant educational research and literature is clear in the belief that greater student impact, understanding, and retention can only be achieved with greater student engagement3. In part, this engagement must come by presenting material and problems in the context of concrete applications or requirements and by connecting problems to the student’s pre-existing knowledge. As part of a NSF Course, Curriculum, and Laboratory Improvement (CCLI) grant new educational material is being developed for the thermodynamics curriculum. This material is being offered under the name “Engaged in Thermodynamics”. It is intended to combine real world scenarios, problems, and solutions in a way that promotes greater student engagement in the learning process. Through increased student engagement it is believed that higher student performance will result.
A case history details how a particular problem was actually solved, while a case problem presents an open-ended problem with the solution still unknown. In contrast, a case study presents an ideal or benchmark solution4. The material being proposed will take elements of each of these and add to it sufficient background information for the student to form a connection to the real-world environment. Each Engineering Scenario will be based on a real-world engineering facility in a form similar to, but expanded from, a case study. The scenario will include extensive background information on the facility, including items such as images and schematics of key components, narratives on facility history and purpose, and information on the engineering personnel responsible for the facility. For each scenario a series of problems will be developed. These problems will take one of three possible forms: skill-based problems, short design problems, and large design problems. While each scenario will center around one engineering facility, the topics covered by these problems will span several chapters or topics in a traditional textbook. This will allow problems to be used from a single scenario throughout the semester. A greater sense of cohesion and continuity in the material will therefore be possible. By basing these problems on a specific and well-researched facility the instructor’s knowledge is fortified and the students’ interest can be exploited to encourage greater engagement.
It is evident that this material could be used in a variety of ways. At the most basic level Scenario problems could be used to replace traditional homework problems. While at the other end of the spectrum they could provide the basis for a range of active and problem based learning experiences in the classroom. Clearly there will be different formats of use and different resulting levels of engagement. In order to evaluate the validity of the Scenario concept
Tebbe, P., & Ross, S., & Weninger, B., & Kvamme, S., & Boardman, J. (2007, June), Assessing The Relationship Between Student Engagement And Performance In Thermodynamics Courses Phase I Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2437
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