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Engagement In An Undergraduate Heat Transfer Course Outside Of The Classroom

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Classroom Engagement

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.466.1 - 15.466.14



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Paper Authors


Sarah Parikh Stanford University

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Sarah E. Parikh is a fourth year graduate student at Stanford University working on her PhD in mechanical engineering with a focus on engineering education. She received a BS in mechanical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin in 2006 and received a MS in mechanical engineering with a focus on microscale heat transfer from Stanford University in 2008.

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Helen Chen Stanford University

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Helen L. Chen is Research Scientist at the Stanford Center for Innovations in Learning and Research Associate in the Center for the Advancement of Engineering Education. Her current research interests focus on the application of ePortfolio pedagogy and practices to facilitate teaching, learning, and assessment for students, faculty, and institutions. She is also interested in the exploration of the affordances and scalability of these kinds of social software tools and their implications for the design and evaluation of innovative learning spaces to support formal and informal learning.

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Kenneth Goodson Stanford University

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Kenneth E. Goodson is professor and vice chair of mechanical engineering at Stanford University. His research group studies thermal transport phenomena in semiconductor nanostructures, energy conversion devices, and microfluidic heat sinks, with a focus on those occurring with very small length and time scales. Goodson is a co-founder and former CTO of Cooligy, Inc., which builds microfluidic cooling systems for computers and was acquired by Emerson, Inc., in 2005. Goodson received the ASME Journal of Heat Transfer Outstanding Reviewer Award, and now serves as an Associate Editor for this Journal. Goodson serves as Editor-in-Chief of Nanoscale and Microscale Thermophysical Engineering. He has received the ONR Young Investigator Award and the NSF CAREER Award. Ken received his PhD in mechanical engineering from MIT.

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Sheri Sheppard Stanford University

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Sheri D. Sheppard is the Burton J. and Deedee McMurtry University Fellow in Undergraduate Education, associate vice provost for graduate education, and professor of mechanical engineering at Stanford University. She is also a consulting senior scholar at the Carnegie Foundation, having directed the Preparations for the Professions Program (PPP) engineering study, and co-authored the study's report Educating Engineers: Designing for the Future of the Field (2008). Before coming to Stanford University, she held several positions in the automotive industry, including senior research engineer at Ford Motor Company's Scientific Research Lab. She earned a Ph.D. at the University of Michigan.

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

Engagement in an Undergraduate Heat Transfer Course Outside of the Classroom


This paper describes a curriculum and a course format for teaching assistant-led sessions aiming to foster student interest and increase engagement in an introductory undergraduate heat transfer course. Evidence of engagement from records of participation in optional extra credit assignments and optional teaching assistant-led sessions are presented. These data indicate that increases in participation in optional activities are correlated with increases in course performance.


Heat transfer instruction is common to many undergraduate mechanical and chemical engineering departments throughout the country and the world, and the available coursework material and teaching practices in this particular discipline are among the most mature in these departments. Heat transfer plays a central role in modern societal needs, in particular energy conversion processes such as the combustion of fossil fuels, which is responsible for a large fraction of green house gas emissions.

Astin and Pace have suggested that increases in student involvement and quality of effort are associated with increases in learning.[1],[2] Based on this theory and the importance of the subject matter we formulated the research question, “Does out-of-class engagement in heat transfer lead to increases in learning as measured by course performance?” Answering this question would allow educators to make more informed decisions about how to encourage learning.

There is an extensive history of pedagogical research on student engagement, much of which has made progress on defining the concept of engagement. There are many different aspects of student engagement in university courses as engagement stands at the crossroads of interest, involvement, excitement, choice, attitude, behavior, and opportunity. Pace used the term quality of effort and, in his view, “quality of effort describes voluntary behavior. It reflects initiative. It describes the strength and the scope of personal investment that students are making for their own higher education.”[3] Astin used the term involvement and considered the involved student to be someone who “devotes considerable energy to studying, spends a lot of time on campus, participates actively in student organizations, and interacts frequently with faculty members and other students.” He also states that “the extent to which students are able to develop their talents in college is a direct function of the amount of time and effort they devote to activities designed to produce these gains.” Astin suggests that “greater use of active rather than passive modes of instruction” would increase students’ level of involvement.[2] More recently Chen et al. determined that student engagement is affected by faculty in the classroom and suggested that future studies of engagement should investigate faculty-student interactions.[4] Here, we look into engagement through the effort that students put forth outside the classroom which may be a proxy for their initiative or involvement in the course.

Parikh, S., & Chen, H., & Goodson, K., & Sheppard, S. (2010, June), Engagement In An Undergraduate Heat Transfer Course Outside Of The Classroom Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16191

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