June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
13.313.1 - 13.313.19
Comparison of Differing Credit Hour Allotments for Thermodynamics and Fluid Mechanics Courses Abstract
Each institution determines how many credit hours will be allotted for each course. Thermodynamics and fluid mechanics in an undergraduate Bachelor of Science Mechanical Engineering curriculum in the United States typically are allotted three or four credit hours. For a semester system, this allows for 42-45 or 56-60 fifty-minute class sessions in three and four credit hour courses, respectively.
Opinions vary whether thermodynamics and fluid mechanics should each be three credit hours, each be four credit hours, or one should be three and the other four. Two universities have conducted a study to determine the advantages, disadvantages, and consequences of three vs. four credit hours. One university has a four credit hour thermodynamics and a three credit hour fluid mechanics, while the other university has exactly the opposite. Through student surveys, course objectives/outcomes, course syllabi, instructors’ experiences, and average grades, conclusions are drawn on the effects of course length. Other issues are examined such as challenges facing instructors who have previously taught a four credit hour course that now must cover the same material within a three credit hour allotment. Finally recommendations are given for instructors that are allotted less than desirable credit hours.
Each undergraduate Bachelor of Science Mechanical Engineering program in the United States is free to determine how many credit hours are allotted for each course in the curriculum. Some institutions operate with semesters, others with quarters and still others with trimesters. For any one of these systems, some mechanical engineering (ME) curricula require two thermodynamics courses while others require only one. Most ME curricula only require one fluid mechanics course. This paper is applicable for institutions that operate on the semester system with ME programs that require only one thermodynamics course and one fluid mechanics course. For these programs thermodynamics and fluid mechanics are typically allotted three or four credit hours. Since a typical semester is 14-15 weeks, three credit hours allows for approximately 42- 45 fifty-minute class sessions, and four credit hours allows for approximately 56-60 fifty-minute class sessions.
Opinions vary whether thermodynamics and fluid mechanics should each be three credit hours, each be four credit hours, or one should be three and the other four. Mechanical engineering faculty at Lawrence Technological University (LTU) in Southfield, Michigan and at the University of Evansville (UE), Indiana have conducted a study to determine the advantages, disadvantages, and consequences of three vs. four credit hours. UE has a four credit hour thermodynamics course and a three credit hour fluid mechanics course, while LTU has exactly the opposite. This paper will draw conclusions as to the recommended course length for thermodynamics and fluid mechanics through various comparisons. First, course objectives/outcomes will be compared. Next, course content and number of classroom hours spent on each topic will be compared. Student surveys were administered and the opinions and
Gerhart, A., & Gerhart, P., & Fletcher, R. (2008, June), Comparison Of Differing Credit Hour Allotments For Thermodynamics And Fluid Mechanics Courses Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. https://peer.asee.org/3902
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