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Reconsidering the Course Format for the First Course in Thermodynamics

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Engineering Physics & Physics Division Technical Session 1

Tagged Division

Engineering Physics & Physics

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1313.1 - 26.1313.10



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Paper Authors


Evan C. Lemley University of Central Oklahoma

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Professor Lemley teaches thermo-fluid engineering and works with undergraduates to perform fluid dynamics
research mostly focused on small scale flow problems. He currently is an Assistant Dean of Mathematics
and Science and a Professor of Engineering and Physics at the University of Central Oklahoma;
his home institution for over fifteen years. Previously, Professor Lemley worked as a mechanical engineer
in the power industry. His Bachelor’s degree is in physics from Hendrix College and his M.S.M.E.
and Ph.D. were earned at the University of Arkansas.

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Aric M. Gillispie

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Mathew Benton

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Reconsidering Course Format for the First Course in Thermodynamics  The first course in engineering thermodynamics is considered an above­average challenge by many engineering students. The mathematical rigor of the course is surely not the reason; the requirements of understanding substance properties and of developing methodical problem­solving techniques, likely, are major causes.  We have modified our teaching methods in this course to an inverted or flipped classroom that employed less formal instruction techniques than the traditional lecture. Our smaller class­sizes (typically less than 30) allow for direct instruction by the instructor and the peer mentor, group problem­solving, and other techniques. This paper discusses observed effectiveness of using non­lecture techniques compared to a lecture­based course. The results of lecture­based courses were observed over several years. The results are compared to results in non­lecture­based courses, taught by the same instructor, in two offerings in Fall 2012 and Fall 2014. The Thermodynamics Concept Inventory has been used as well as overall performance on quizzes, projects, and exams. Other qualitative observations are also discussed.  Positive effects were previously observed in the non­lecture course compared to the lecture course and this paper discusses our most recent observations.    

Lemley, E. C., & Gillispie, A. M., & Benton, M. (2015, June), Reconsidering the Course Format for the First Course in Thermodynamics Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24650

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