Improvement in Second-Law Concept Retention in Students Taking Redesigned Entropy-Centered FTC
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© American Society for Engineering Education, 2016. Thermodynamics remains an important subject for mechanical engineers. Likewise, second law concepts such as entropy, reversibility, and exergy can remain confusing and abstract for mechanical engineering students; an outcome that may result in mechanical engineers losing opportunities to improve energy utilization and conversion due to poor understanding of all important laws of thermodynamics. Realizing the possible deficiency in students' conceptual understanding of second law, and the perceived importance of having conceptual understanding of second law, an effort was undertaken to redesign the first thermodynamics course (FTC) to improve student understanding and retention of second law concepts. The results of this effort are reported elsewhere. The present follow-on study describes the possible improved retention of second law concepts among students who had the redesigned FTC by assessing their second law conceptual understanding in an important follow-on course, the second thermodynamics course (STC). This paper describes the redesigned FTC, relative to the conventional FTC, the STC, and the approach taken to assess possible improvement in student retention of second law concepts. Further, the study quantifies the impact of the redesigned FTC on students' ability to be successful in the STC.
author list (cited authors)
Jacobs, T., Strzelec, A., & Froyd, J.