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Teaching Thermodynamics Online: Instructor and Student Perspectives

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

ECCD - Technical Session 6 - Energy & Thermodynamics

Tagged Division

Energy Conversion and Conservation

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Farshid Zabihian California State University, Sacramento

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Farshid Zabihian, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Mechanical Engineering
California State University, Sacramento

Ph.D., Mechanical Engineering,Ryerson University, 2011
M.S. Mechanical Engineering, Iran University of Science and Technology, 1998
B.S. Mechanical Engineering, Amir Kabir University of Technology, 1996

Authored or coauthored more than 70 papers in Journals and peer-reviewed conferences.

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The diverse modes of delivery, including online courses and programs, have been continuously gaining popularity in the past couple of decades. Many students are taking some online courses during the course of their study. However, the number of students who are taking these courses and the number of online courses they are taking significantly vary and depend on the discipline and institution. Ironically, while the technologies needed to deliver online courses are developed primarily by advancements in various engineering fields, engineering programs are not typically taking advantage of opportunities presented by this mode of delivery and accordingly engineering students are not benefiting from these advantages. This paper presents both the author’s experience in teaching an online thermodynamics course and the students’ experience in taking the course. After attending several faculty learning communities and implementing the flipped class model, the author felt confident that he is equipped with tools and skills needed to teach an online course. So he applied for a program at XYZ which is designed to support online course development. His application was accepted and he developed the course in spring 2019 in collaboration with a professional instructional designer. The course was offered in summer 2019. The course demographics, student’s performance results, and student feedback are compared between spring 2019 when the course was taught face-to-face and summer 2019 when it was taught online. The student performance indicated that the drop, fail, or withdrawal (DFW) rate was not meaningfully impacted by the mode of delivery. However, the students’ final GPA in the course (before any form of adjustments or curving), improved from 81 (out of 100) in the face-to-face class to 88 in the online class. Also, the rate of homework/assignment completion improved from 68.5% to 86%. It should be noted that the impacts of spring semester vs. summer semester could not be assessed with the existing data. Other than that, all other aspects of the two classes were identical. The comparison of the student feedback for these two courses in the-end-of-the-semester and in-class evaluations indicated that the overall student satisfaction was improved and they had a more positive learning experience.

Zabihian, F. (2020, June), Teaching Thermodynamics Online: Instructor and Student Perspectives Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35284

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