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Testing Prerequisite Knowledge of Thermodynamics during a Thermodynamics II Course

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

Mechanical Engineering Division Technical Session 9

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

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Paper Authors


Kamau Wright University of Hartford

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Kamau Wright is an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Hartford. He specializes in thermo-fluids and plasma engineering. His technical research interests include applications of high voltage plasma discharges to liquids and wastewaters; plasma decomposition of carbon dioxide; fouling prevention and mitigation for heat exchangers; oxidation of organic matter in water; and inactivation of bacteria using high voltage plasmas.

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Ivana Milanovic University of Hartford

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Ivana Milanovic is a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Hartford. Her area of expertise is thermo-fluids with research interests in vortical flows, computational fluid dynamics, multiphysics modeling, and collaborative learning strategies. Dr. Milanovic is a contributing author for more than 90 journal articles, NASA reports, conference papers, and software releases.

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C. Cy Yavuzturk University of Hartford

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A surprise 40-min Pre-requisite Exam was administered in the first week of a Thermodynamics II course to assess pre-requisite knowledge of Thermodynamics I curriculum, and achievement of associated learning outcomes. This exam placed particular interest on students’ understanding of concepts related to transient analysis. Students’ performance on this Pre-requisite Exam would not negatively impact their grades in Thermodynamics II, and if at all counted, could be used toward extra credit. The Pre-requisite Exam was mostly motivated by reported/perceived positive enhancements in sections of Thermodynamics I, and interest in identifying and demonstrating additional robust yet pragmatic methods of assessing the extent to these enhancements. From the instructors’ perspectives, correlations might potentially be able to be made between Pre-requisite Exam performance and previous Thermodynamics I experiences, addressing questions such as, “what might be the effect of the time between a student successfully completing the pre-requisite course, and performance in the post-requisite Thermodynamics II course?”; “can the impact of any particular student experiences or teaching and learning strategies implemented in the pre-requisite course be identified as positively affecting performance and achievement in the post-requisite Thermodynamics II course?” The Pre-requisite Exam administered in the beginning of a Thermodynamics II course provides a data point in addressing such questions. The primary motivation of this study was to provide further assessment of positive results that were obtained in implementing collaborative projects with simulation components as high impact practices into a Thermodynamics I course. The results of the present study have indicated that the implementation of such a collaborative project into sections of Thermodynamics I did not directly result in better performance on the specific pre-requisite exam problem. Further, it was observed that the amount of time that had passed since a student had completed the Thermodynamics I course, did not impact performance on this exam problem. The method of administering Pre-requisite Exams is demonstrated and suggested as a method which can be strategically utilized to uncover, describe, and assess the impact (or lack thereof) of specific perceived enhancements in the curriculum.

Wright, K., & Milanovic, I., & Yavuzturk, C. C. (2019, June), Testing Prerequisite Knowledge of Thermodynamics during a Thermodynamics II Course Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33366

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