June 24, 2017
June 24, 2017
June 28, 2017
Computers in Education
This paper describes the design, development and pilot implementation of computer simulations created to support student learning in a first semester course on thermodynamics. This project was sponsored by the Course Redesign with Technology program through the California State University Chancellor’s Office. The focus of the computer simulations was to be engaging, relatively simple, and scientifically accurate. They were developed within the Matlab® environment using relatively simple geometric shapes, lines and colors specifically designed to coincide with the simple systems described in an introductory thermodynamics course and to avoid elaborate designs that might distract or obscure important and relevant concepts. Each module emphasized a common thermodynamic principle or concept and provided an opportunity for users to adjust a limited number of inputs and immediately observe a resulting change. The modules included concepts in material density, simple compressible systems, and 2-D property diagrams. Feedback was collected from students self-reporting their experiences and impressions. Thirty-three students completed the questionnaire after using the 2-D properties module while only ten and seven responses were collected for the simple compressible system and density modules, respectively. Based on student feedback using the 2-D properties module, 15 of 32 respondents reported that their understanding of the thermodynamic principles improved and 29 of 33 students reported that they would use the 2-D module again for other classes or applications. Four of ten respondents reported that after using the simple compressible system module their learning improved and all students reported that they would or might use the simple compressible system module in the future. Only one student reported that their understanding of the material improved and 4 of 6 reported that they would not use the module in the future, which indicates that this module was either too simplistic or was introduced too late in the semester. The positive student responses for using the 2-D property and simple compressible system modules provides preliminary support that the computer simulations supported student learning.
Alexander, D. G. (2017, June), Computer Simulations Developed to Improve Understanding of Thermodynamic Principles Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28063
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