John R. Thompson, and
Donald B. Mountcastle
We report data on upper-level student understanding of entropy and the Second Law of Thermodynamics when comparing the isothermal and free expansions of an ideal gas. Data from pre- and post-instruction written questions are presented, and several noteworthy features of student performance are identified and discussed. These features include ways students think about these topics prior to instruction as well as specific difficulties and other interesting aspects of student thought that persist after instruction. Implications for future research are also addressed.
Published February 14, 2006
Last Modified July 10, 2013
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