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Abstract Title: Spanning Student Reasoning about P-V Diagrams in Physics and Engineering
Abstract: As part of a new effort to investigate the learning and teaching of concepts in thermodynamics and electronics in both physics and engineering, we have been examining student learning of thermodynamics in mechanical and chemical engineering and physics courses.  In thermodynamics, students must grapple with multivariable dependence between state properties.  They are also taught to use simplified models of real substances (e.g., ideal gas).  By varying a task we have previously studied which probes students' understanding of the First Law, its constituent elements, and graphical representations, we access additional specific knowledge of the univariant temperature dependence of the internal energy of an ideal gas.  Our results show that use of this concept varies across disciplines despite being covered in all.  Additionally, the task alteration suppresses the most common previously identified difficulty and elicits others to give a more complete understanding of student reasoning.
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster Presentation

Author/Organizer Information

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