Asee peer logo

Developing Students’ Reasoning With Models And Equations Through Cequel

Download Paper |


2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session


Page Count


Page Numbers

10.443.1 - 10.443.11



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Sean Brophy

Download Paper |

NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2551

Developing students’ reasoning with models and equations through Cequel™

Sean P. Brophy1 and, A. M. Mellor2 1 Department of Biomedical Engineering, 2Department of Mechanical Engineering Vanderbilt University


Expert’s tools can develop engineering students’ ability to reason about complex systems (turbines, rockets, internal combustion engines etc) using thermodynamics principles. These energy conversion systems can be difficult to understand because of the complex interaction between multiple factors and the wide range of operating conditions. Building experiences for students to explore this complexity can be difficult with traditional instructional methods. Students typically apply their knowledge to textbook problems using paper and pencil to compute a system’s performance for a single operating condition. This activity only provides a starting point for exploring the complexity of a system. We are exploring the potential of Cequel, a plug in for Excel, for constructing models to evaluate a systems’ performance. An important part of this activity is the ability to construct a graph that illustrates the dynamic interaction between factors influencing the system’s performance. We expect that students will understand how these graphs represent the governing equations of a system better compared to students who have not used Cequel as part of their thermodynamics course. In the Fall 2004 semester, Cequel was used to support homework assignments in a second level thermodynamics course. Assignments were presented as experiments that required constructing a model followed by explaining several “what if” scenarios based on that model. Students worked in small groups to build and evaluate the model, then wrote a report complete with a short essay describing the phenomena. Students’ perceptions of these activities were measured using a survey completed at the end of the course. In addition, the standard course evaluation was used as to compare across years illustrate the value added of these activities compared with traditional homework assignments. Several observations were made of two groups during their homework sessions. These observations provide some insights into how students approached the activity and how that approach could affect the final outcomes of the small group activity. This paper describes the course materials designed around Cequel and put into a class package. Students found these learning activities challenging and valued them as important to their future as professional engineering students. Several students began to use Cequel as a general purpose tool, but not all students had sufficient experience constructing models with Cequel to have sufficient confidence to use it to verify their homework assignments.

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Brophy, S. (2005, June), Developing Students’ Reasoning With Models And Equations Through Cequel Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--15090

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2005 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015