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PERC 2008 Abstract Detail Page

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Abstract Title: Student Understanding of P-V Diagrams and Conceptions about Integration
Abstract: As part of ongoing research into upper-level undergraduate student understanding of thermodynamics at the University of Maine, we report on students' understanding of thermodynamic work, internal energy and the associated mathematics.
New interview data of physics majors, as well as written data obtained in a calculus III class, support our previous findings and provide for a more in-depth look into factors impacting student difficulties with thermodynamic quantities.
Analysis of written and interview data has revealed student conceptions about integration that might otherwise be interpreted as conceptual difficulties with the physics.  The data suggest that students' application of the state function concept to thermodynamic work may be due in part to incorrect conceptions regarding integration.  The data also suggest that students lack the correct mathematical foundation of the state function concept, which may be a factor in its indiscriminate application.
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Evan B. Pollock
University of Maine
5709 Bennett Hall
Orono, ME 04469
Phone: 207-581-1022
and Co-Presenter(s)
Brandon R. Bucy
University of Maine;

John R. Thompson
University of Maine;

Donald B. Mountcastle
University of Maine