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"Mini" Research Papers for Enhancing Heat Transfer Learning Objectives

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Learning and Assessment II

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.15.1 - 25.15.12



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Paper Authors


Randy Dean Kelley P.E. University of Pittsburgh, Johnstown

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Randy Kelley, Ph.D., P.E., is an Assistant Professor at the University of Pittsburgh, Johnstown. Kelley received his doctorate from Texas A&M University in nuclear and mechanical engineering. Kelley specializes in energy generation and conservation techniques and how they interact with emerging technologies.

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“Mini” Research Papers for Enhancing Heat Transfer Learning ObjectivesAbstractTeaching courses such as heat transfer can prove challenging. It is difficult to cover the largequantity of material in the time frame that a single semester allows. Working many exampleproblems significantly helps with student’s understanding of the topic but diminishes the lecturetime and hence, limits the amount of material that can be covered.One solution to help with challenging and material laden courses (i.e. Thermodynamics, Fluids,Heat Transfer, etc.) is to assign a significant number of homework problems. However, theeffectiveness of homework has been lessened by the student’s availability of most solutionmanuals on line. Additionally, large quantities of homework for the students transfer to a largetime commitment on already taxed professors for grading. Therefore, the question is: how doyou increase the amount of material absorbed without increasing the students’ workloadexcessively?This paper deals with “mini” research papers assignments. The term “mini” research papersrefer to papers less than 5 pages. The papers should contain the important aspects of a fullresearch papers, namely: introduction, theory, procedure, results, conclusions and a referencerequirement of at least three peer reviewed papers.The case study papers specifically address a certain concept in the broad field of heat transfer.For heat transfer, there are three sub-categories that stand out; conduction, convection andradiation. A mini research paper was assigned for each topic. The subject of each researchpaper included data taken in class from a simple heat transfer experiments. This greatly helpedthe students to visually experience the practical side of the theory they learned in lecture.Students were placed in teams of two to three. Each team was given the same data for theproblem. Using teams allowed students to collaborate and learn from each other while workingon the paper and it helped to limit the demand on the instructor.The “mini” research paper experiments used were very inexpensive but cemented aspects ofdifficult concepts. Students were able to observe actual heat transfer topics, a benefit over justdoing homework. The actual graphs are plotted on the same graphs as the theoretical curves andthe students are to comment on the similarities and differences. Some university engineeringprograms have an adjacent heat transfer laboratory class to help students visualize the varioustopics, but some do not.Having the assignment be “mini” research papers instead of actual research papers lessens thework impact but at the same time increasing the students’ writing opportunities. This activelearning technique motivates the students to become interested in the practical aspects of thethree experiments conducted in this class.

Kelley, R. D. (2012, June), "Mini" Research Papers for Enhancing Heat Transfer Learning Objectives Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--20771

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