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Internet Use In A Beginning Thermodynamics Course

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.651.1 - 6.651.9

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Paper Authors

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Frederick Reardon

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

Session 1647

Internet Use in a Beginning Thermodynamics Course Frederick H. Reardon California State University, Sacramento


Thermodynamics is a complex subject, involving many new concepts, complicated equations, and large amounts of data. Instructors are faced with the problem of how to present new concepts and reinforce old ones. The use of the Internet in a beginning thermodynamics course has proven to be helpful and effective. A web site is established for the course; it includes the course syllabus, with the goals and objectives, grading information, a course plan, and supplementary notes, classwork exercises, and homework assignments. The web page is designed so that it can be projected onto a screen in the classroom and can be downloaded by the students at home. Although the use of the Internet in teaching has many advantages, one problem is the amount of time required to prepare the web pages. Since the students like to download the notes, one must also be careful that the web pages print properly. Student reactions to the use of the Internet have been uniformly favorable. They say that it is very helpful in helping them to learn what is generally acknowledged to be a difficult subject.


Thermodynamics is a complex subject. The study of thermodynamics involves grasping new concepts, learning how to find data, examining experimental results, manipulating equations, and more. One problem for the instructor is how to present new concepts and how to reinforce old ones. A good textbook is very important, especially since it is portable and requires no batteries. In class, the chalk or white board is invaluable, particularly combined with enthusiastic gestures by the instructor. However, complex figures or equations are difficult to draw accurately, especially while talking, and the students can take with them only what they are able to copy with the tools they bring to class. Overhead projection of transparencies allows important material to be prepared ahead of time, with thought given to the effectiveness of the layout. The students may still have trouble taking the material presented with them, unless copies of the transparencies are handed out.

The Internet offers a new approach to presenting and reviewing new concepts, data and problem- solving methods. In a study of web-based educational materials, Wallace and Weiner1 conclude that these materials appear to offer flexibility in organizing classroom time. Kadiyala and Crynes2, in their study of the effectiveness of information technology in education, report that multimedia presentations help students to visualize concepts. This author’s experience with mechanical engineering technology students agrees with the data presented by Bernold, et al3, that these students respond to the questions "how?" and "what?"and are sensory rather than intuitive learners. They respond well to visual input. The use of the Internet in the beginning

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Reardon, F. (2001, June), Internet Use In A Beginning Thermodynamics Course Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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