New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
Research shows that engineering students struggle to understand concepts in certain core engineering courses such as heat transfer. Students may be able to solve specific problems by following a sequence of steps (referred to a procedural knowledge), but often lack conceptual knowledge, or deep understanding of concepts and the relationships among concepts. Yet it is this conceptual knowledge that can help students transition from novice to expert in a domain. Ideally, procedural and conceptual knowledge are developed in an iterative process where increases in one type of knowledge lead to increases in the other. To determine the extent to which students balance the development of conceptual and procedural knowledge, prior studies examined the way in which students described their approaches to learning in statics courses. The current research expands on this prior work by examining the relationship between students' approaches to learning and their conceptual understanding of heat transfer material. We compared students in two sections of a heat transfer course: the experimental section had a hands-on workshop in addition to lectures, and the control section consisted of lectures only.
As part of a larger study examining student motivation and conceptual change, a multiple case study approach was utilized. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with students towards the end of a semester-long heat transfer course. Interviews were coded to identify 1) learning approaches focused on developing conceptual or procedural knowledge, and 2) students’ conceptual knowledge of the heat transfer material.
All participants in the study discussed learning approaches that were aimed at developing procedural knowledge. Some students discussed balanced learning approaches focused on developing both conceptual and procedural knowledge, while other students primarily discussed approaches focused on developing procedural knowledge. We compared the learning approaches and the conceptual knowledge of students who were in the workshop section to students who were not. When taking into account students’ learning styles, students in the workshop demonstrated more conceptual knowledge than those students who had similar learning approaches but were not in the workshop section. Additionally, the students in the workshop section were able to define terms more conceptually, while the students who were not in the workshop struggled to define the terms.
Hermundstad, A. L., & Diller, T. E., & Williams, C. B., & Matusovich, H. M. (2016, June), Exploring Conceptual Understanding in Heat Transfer: A Qualitative Analysis Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26845
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: © 2016 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