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Facilitating Cross-Course Connections & Knowledge Transfer between Engineering Thermodynamics and Mathematics (WIP)

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2019 Fall Mid Atlantic States Conference


New York, New York

Publication Date

November 1, 2019

Start Date

November 1, 2019

End Date

November 30, 2019

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Paper Authors


Alexander John De Rosa Stevens Institute of Technology (School of Engineering and Science)

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Alexander De Rosa is a Teaching Assistant Professor at Stevens Institute of Technology. Alex specializes in teaching in the thermal-fluid sciences and has a background in experimental combustion. He gained his PhD in 2015 from The Pennsylvania State University.

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Denis Serbin

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Stephanie Lee

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Promoting “deeper learning” so that students can access and apply knowledge in different contexts and circumstances beyond the scope of a given course is a major goal of educators. However, it is well-established that students have difficulty transferring knowledge and skills between courses in their undergraduate curriculum. Simple methods are needed to help students draw upon prior knowledge to solve problems in different courses and ultimately in their careers. In this study, thermodynamics students were posed a problem that required the application of skills learned in calculus courses to solve. Without providing any guidance, the students were asked to solve the problem. After this first attempt, students were asked to solve a relevant calculus problem in order to activate their requisite prior knowledge. Again, no guidance was provided. Finally, students were provided a second attempt at solving the initial thermodynamics problem. Student responses to each of the attempts and the calculus problem were scored. Prompting students with the calculus problem was successful in showing students the need to integrate to solve the thermodynamics problem but did not significantly improve their problem solving success. Many students did however state that they felt they had the skills to solve the thermodynamics problem and that barriers to success included lack of learning applications of math skills and the gap in time between completing the math sequence and thermodynamics course.

De Rosa, A. J., & Serbin, D., & Lee, S. (2019, November), Facilitating Cross-Course Connections & Knowledge Transfer between Engineering Thermodynamics and Mathematics (WIP) Paper presented at 2019 Fall Mid Atlantic States Conference, New York, New York. 10.18260/1-2--33805

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