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Assessment of Student Knowledge in an Introductory Thermodynamics Course

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Learning and Assessment II

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.228.1 - 25.228.21



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Paper Authors


Amir Karimi University of Texas, San Antonio

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Amir Karimi is a professor of mechanical engineering and the Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies at the University of Texas, San Antonio (UTSA). He received his Ph.D. degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Kentucky in 1982. His teaching and research interests are in thermal sciences. He has served as the Chair of Mechanical Engineering (1987 to 1992, and Sept. 1998 to Jan. of 2003), College of Engineering Associate Dean of Academic Affairs (Jan. 2003 to April 2006), and the Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies (April 2006 to present). Karimi is a Fellow of ASME and Senior Member of AIAA, and holds membership in ASEE, ASHRAE, and Sigma Xi. He is the ASEE Campus Representative at UTSA, ASEE-GSW Section Campus Representative, and served as the Chair of ASEE Zone III (2005 to 2007). He chaired the ASEE-GSW section during the 1996-97 academic year.

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Randall D. Manteufel University of Texas, San Antonio

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Randall Manteufel serves as an Associate Professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Texas, San Antonio (UTSA), where he has been on the faculty since 1997. His teaching and research interests are in the thermal sciences. He is currently the faculty advisor for ASHRAE at UTSA.

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Assessment of Student Knowledge in an Introductory Thermodynamics CourseAbstractThe first course in thermodynamics course builds the foundation for the thermal sciencecourses in an undergraduate mechanical engineering curriculum. Those students, whoproperly learn the fundamental concepts, typically do well and enjoy the follow upthermal science courses. Therefore, assessment of student knowledge in this course isessential for student success in the follow up courses. Assessment of student knowledgeusually achieved through homework assignments, one or two mid semester exam, and afinal examination. The difficulty is that only simple problems can be included in a fifty-minute mid semester exam and one or two exams are not sufficient to gage studentmastery of all the topics covered in a course. Therefore, instructors rely on homeworkassignments to give students experience in solving more complex problems. However inthe recent years most student, if not all, have access to textbook solution manuals througha variety of sources. We have had a difficult time to convince student that an importantpart of engineering education for students to learn how to set up the problem solution ontheir own. As a result, many students who pass the first course in thermodynamics, havea shallow understanding of the subject matter and do not well in the follow up thermalscience courses. We have noticed that by increasing the number and frequency ofexaminations, students gain a deeper understanding of the subject matter. But theincrease in the frequency of the examinations requires more work by the instructor inwriting and grading examinations. This is especially true for classes with largerenrollments. In the last few semesters, we have tried new ways of assigning homeworkproblems and assessing student knowledge in our introductory thermodynamics course.Our experience includes large classes with enrollment exceeding 120 students. Thispaper, will describe our experiences in teaching an introductory thermodynamics courseand its effect on student learning outcome. At the end of each semester students weresurveyed to get their feedback on the methods used in teaching the course and theassessment of student knowledge. This paper will provide a summary of the surveyresults.

Karimi, A., & Manteufel, R. D. (2012, June), Assessment of Student Knowledge in an Introductory Thermodynamics Course Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--20988

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