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Improvement in Second-Law Concept Retention in Students Taking Redesigned Entropy-Centered FTC

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Thermodynamics, Fluids, and Heat Transfer I

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

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Paper Authors


Timothy J. Jacobs Texas A&M University

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Associate Professor in Department of Mechanical Engineering at Texas A&M University

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Andrea Strzelec Texas A&M University

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Dr. Strzelec is an Assistant Professor of in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Texas A&M University and a Research Faculty at Texas A&M Transportation Institute. She joined the department in August of 2011 after post doctoral fellowships at Oak Ridge and Pacific Northwest National Laboratories. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2009. She teaches undergraduate courses in thermodynamics, heat transfer, thermal fluids analysis and capstone design and graduate courses in thermodynamics and combustion science. Dr. Strzelec’s research interests are in the area of heterogeneous reaction kinetics and characterization with specific focus on automotive emissions aftertreatment; low temperature catalysis; particulate filtration; pyrolysis; and remediation of hydrocarbon contamination.

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Jeffrey E. Froyd Texas A&M University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Jeffrey E. Froyd is a TEES Research Professor in the Office of Engineering Academic and Student Affairs at Texas A&M University, College Station. He received the B.S. degree in mathematics from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. He was an Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, and Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. At Rose-Hulman, he co-created the Integrated, First-Year Curriculum in Science, Engineering and Mathematics, which was recognized in 1997 with a Hesburgh Award Certificate of Excellence. He served as Project Director a National Science Foundation (NSF) Engineering Education Coalition in which six institutions systematically renewed, assessed, and institutionalized innovative undergraduate engineering curricula. He has authored over 70 papers and offered over 30 workshops on faculty development, curricular change processes, curriculum redesign, and assessment. He has served as a program co-chair for three Frontiers in Education Conferences and the general chair for the 2009 conference. Prof. Froyd is a Fellow of the IEEE, a Fellow of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), an ABET Program Evaluator, the Editor-in-Chief for the IEEE Transactions on Education, a Senior Associate Editor for the Journal of Engineering Education, and an Associate Editor for the International Journal of STEM Education.

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Thermodynamics remains an important subject for mechanical engineers. Likewise, second law concepts such as entropy, reversibility, and exergy can remain confusing and abstract for mechanical engineering students; an outcome that may result in mechanical engineers losing opportunities to improve energy utilization and conversion due to poor understanding of all important laws of thermodynamics. Realizing the possible deficiency in students’ conceptual understanding of second law, and the perceived importance of having conceptual understanding of second law, an effort was undertaken to redesign the first thermodynamics course (FTC) to improve student understanding and retention of second law concepts. The results of this effort are reported elsewhere. The present follow-on study describes the possible improved retention of second law concepts among students who had the redesigned FTC by assessing their second law conceptual understanding in an important follow-on course, the second thermodynamics course (STC). This paper describes the redesigned FTC, relative to the conventional FTC, the STC, and the approach taken to assess possible improvement in student retention of second law concepts. Further, the study quantifies the impact of the redesigned FTC on students’ ability to be successful in the STC.

Jacobs, T. J., & Strzelec, A., & Froyd, J. E. (2016, June), Improvement in Second-Law Concept Retention in Students Taking Redesigned Entropy-Centered FTC Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25604

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