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Abstract Title: Comparing Student Conceptual Understanding of Thermodynamics in Physics and Engineering
Abstract: Thermodynamics is a core part of curricula in physics and many engineering fields.  Despite the apparent similarity in coverage, individual courses in each discipline have distinct emphases and applications.  Physics education researchers have identified student difficulties with concepts such as heat, temperature, and entropy as well as with larger grain-sized ideas such as state variables, path-dependent processes, etc.  Engineering education research has corroborated these findings and has identified additional difficulties unique to engineering contexts.  We are beginning a project that provides an excellent opportunity for expanding the interdisciplinary research on conceptual understanding in thermodynamics.  This project has two goals: first, determine the overlapping content and concepts across the disciplines; second, compare conceptual understanding between these groups using existing conceptual questions from PER and EER.  We will present a review of PER and EER literature in thermodynamics and highlight some concepts that we will investigate.

This project is partially supported by NSF grant 0817282.
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster Presentation

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Jessica W. Clark
University of Maine
Department of Physics and Astronomy
214 Bennett Hall
Orono, ME 04469
and Co-Presenter(s)
John R. Thompson - University of Maine
Donald B. Mountcastle - University of Maine

Contributed Poster

Contributed Poster: Download the Contributed Poster