June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
12.1208.1 - 12.1208.12
Promoting Student Engagement in Thermodynamics with Engineering Scenarios
Many of the thermo-fluids courses, and in particular Thermodynamics, are often taught with traditional teaching methods and textbooks. Thermodynamics, in particular, is prone to elicit a negative impression from students "who perceive the subject as dry and abstract.”1 While there has been progress in recent years, there are still limited visual aids depicting actual equipment or industry settings. Even though the topics covered often have a real-world basis they are generally simplified and only offer a superficial impression of industry applications. This is especially true in the first thermodynamics course which is theory heavy. The result is that many students have excessive difficulty with the subject and do not develop a "feel" for the topic or the associated real-world equipment2,3. Felder et al. have summarized this best by stating that without student interest or a belief in the need to learn the material, a course “stimulates neither interest nor motivation to learn. The fact that many students in these courses appear apathetic and do poorly…should not come as a surprise”.4
The relevant educational research and literature is clear in the belief that greater student impact, understanding, and retention can only be achieved with greater student engagement5. This engagement must come by presenting material and problems in the context of concrete applications or requirements and by connecting problems to the student’s pre-existing knowledge. A related deficiency exists within engineering design education. A common approach to promote design exposure is to attempt integration of real-world problems and design throughout the curriculum6. Normally this route involves the addition of one or more open-ended problems to a specific course. However, these problems are often assigned toward the end of the semester and are “by necessity limited in scope and complexity.”7 In addition, engineering programs continue to be criticized for not offering more experience with real-world applications8. In many cases only minimal information is presented on the “reality” or technological background of the problem and the design methods presented may be flawed and incomplete, especially in relation to real-world practices.
Many beginning thermodynamics courses are hampered by an inability to develop well-defined, feasible design problems around introductory topics9. A review of several of the major texts used for thermodynamics reveals that discussion of the working environment and methods used by practicing engineers are extremely limited. Design is largely integrated through the addition in each chapter of several Design and Open-Ended Problems.10,11,12 Often these problems lack well-defined instructional objectives or grading rubrics. Therefore, instructors often have difficulty assessing student performance on these problems13. While dedicated instructors will attempt to modify normal problems or tailor real-world issues into design problems, difficulties arise as well-defined problems are broadened yet still remain circumscribed14. In addition, there are natural limitations to the instructor’s time and experience that can hinder problem creation.
Tebbe, P., & Ross, S., & Kvamme, S., & Weninger, B., & Boardman, J. (2007, June), Promoting Student Engagement In Thermodynamics With Engineering Scenarios Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2441
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