San Antonio, Texas
June 10, 2012
June 10, 2012
June 13, 2012
25.910.1 - 25.910.12
Making their Brains Hurt: Quick and Effective Activities for Thermodynamics Nearly half of the students starting engineering thermodynamics believe that the thermal efficiency of a typical engine is nearly 100% (Vigeant, Prince, and Nottis,2011). This belief is challenging to displace, even for students who demonstrate faculty with mathematical descriptions of efficiency. While traditional lecture is not highly effective at reversing students’ misconceptions, several supporting approaches such as clicker-‐questions and inquiry-‐based activities have been demonstrated to be effective in changing students’ minds. In this work, we developed two inquiry-‐based activities to address each of five areas identified as important yet challenging for students: Entropy, Reversibility, Confusion between Enthalpy and Internal energy, Confusion between Equilibrium and Steady State, and Confusion over factors impacting Chemical Equilibrium and Reaction Rate. The activities each start by setting up a situation where students’ most common misconceptions lead them astray, and ask them to make a prediction. This is followed by a hands-‐on experiment (when possible) or an interactive simulation (when not) in which students directly interact with the situation that provoked their prediction. These situations are designed so that the predictions based upon the most common misconceptions fail to explain what is observed. Students are allowed and encouraged to “mess with” the experiment to verify that the surprising result isn’t a trick. Finally a series of follow-‐up and reflection questions encourages students to incorporate the new information into their existing understanding. Each activity is designed to take about 15 minutes and use materials found commonly in chemical engineering laboratories or available at Wal-‐Mart. These activities have been shown to improve students’ concept inventory scores another 10 percentage points over lecture alone. In the following paper, we will present a summary of each activity and its implementation, as well as further evidence for the effectiveness of the approach.
Vigeant, M. A., & Prince, M. J., & Nottis, K. E. K. (2012, June), Making their Brains Hurt: Quick and Effective Activities for Thermodynamics Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21667
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