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Factors Affecting Concept Retention

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Student Learning

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.623.1 - 14.623.9



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Paper Authors

author page

Philip Parker University of Wisconsin, Platteville

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

Factors Affecting Concept Retention

Keywords Concept retention, transfer, competencies, fluid mechanics Introduction

Few would argue with the claim that the quality of the learning experience in prerequisite coursework has a significant impact on student success in subsequent courses. The premise for this seems obvious: the more effectively students are taught, the better they will learn, and the better they learn, the more they will retain. Surprisingly, the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education research literature contains minimal evidence to support this premise. Many studies exist that explore how different pedagogies affect student attitudes or self-perceived learning, but few studies in the area of engineering education have been published that report on the link between pedagogy, learning, and knowledge retention.

This paper seeks to add to the limited evidence supporting the fundamental premise that pedagogy affects learning, and learning affects retention. Specifically, this paper has two objectives. The first objective is to evaluate how well students retain fundamental fluid mechanics concepts in the long term. The ability to do so is termed concept retention in this paper. The second objective is to evaluate how various factors, including pedagogy, influence student concept retention. This is an exploratory effort and no attempts to generalize will be made.

Background It is important to differentiate between transfer, knowledge retention, and concept retention. For this paper, transfer is defined as the ability for learning activities to have positive effects that extend beyond the conditions of initial learning.(1) Knowledge retention is defined as the ability to remember facts and other information. Concept retention is the ability to remember fundamental concepts rather than “just” facts. “Concept retention” is a term coined for this paper, which was necessary as the ability to retain concepts rather than facts has not been differentiated in the literature.

These three terms may be better explained with an example. Consider the Bernoulli equation, used in Fluid Mechanics to compare the energy at two points within a fluid. According to the Bernoulli equation, no energy is lost or gained between the two points of interest. This equation is often applied to explain the venturi effect, in which an incompressible fluid traveling through a constriction experiences an increase in velocity and an accompanying decrease in pressure. A test of knowledge retention of the Bernoulli Equation might be to ask students to repeat the equation, or, given the equation, to define the terms in the equation. A test of transfer might be to ask the students to apply the Bernoulli Equation to a case that they have not considered before, for example an orifice meter. A test of concept retention would ask students how the pressure in a constriction would vary as compared to the pressure before or after the constriction. To ensure

Parker, P. (2009, June), Factors Affecting Concept Retention Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5657

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