June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
14.501.1 - 14.501.10
Don’t Panic! How To Increase Student Involvement and Understanding In An Introductory Thermo-Fluids Course
Learning thermodynamics for many engineering students is daunting. When introductory thermodynamics is combined with fluid mechanics, this task becomes more difficult. At Michigan Technological University (Michigan Tech), Civil Engineering, Geological Engineering and Biomedical Engineering students take an introductory Thermodynamics/Fluid Mechanics course, ENG 3200. These students have varied backgrounds and interests which increases the challenges of teaching. The typical enrollment is 80 students per section. To address these challenges, the instructors, along with the graduate teaching assistants, developed an initial pilot study to test and assess the effectiveness of the use on active and non-traditional methods in an introductory thermo-fluids class.
The first innovation was piloted in the fall 2008 semester and involves the exam structure. Prior to this semester, students took an exam in ENG 3200 and then had the opportunity to earn “redemption” points through re-doing the exam outside of class. This method received major student criticism. Therefore, a new tool was needed. In the fall 2008, students took their exams over two class periods. They began the exam during the first session. After class, they could review course notes and material, and discuss the exam problems with anyone except their instructor. During the second session, they made changes and completed the exam.
The second innovative learning tool deals with how students learn the course material. Many example problems are solved in class with student input. These activities go well beyond the standard “in-class” example problems. Within this new format, it is the students who are asked questions regarding the solution process, but are not necessarily solving the entire problem. This method helps students to learn how to apply the thermo/fluids concepts prior to completing their homework. This technique results in more student engagement in the form of questions, input and comments. Additionally, outside of class, students are encouraged to answer basic conceptual questions or problems regarding the week’s course material on an interactive course web page (Blackboard). While completing the assessment, students learn why a certain answer is correct and what some common misconceptions are. For each assessment completed, students may earn points that are added to their exam score.
This paper will discuss these changes, along with providing preliminary assessment data and will recommend planned steps for a detailed study to follow.
Beginning in 2000, Michigan Tech implemented a curriculum that was designed to homogenize the first two years of a four year engineering degree, such that all incoming freshman and sophomore engineering students take essentially the same classes. These classes actively help students to learn more about their prospective majors before they ultimately choose one and also ensure that all students are able to transition to the junior level of one major to another with
Marlor, K., & Hein, G., & Manser, N., & Hamlin, B. (2009, June), Don’t Panic! How To Increase Student Involvement And Understanding In An Introductory Thermo Fluids Course Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. https://peer.asee.org/4943
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