Journal Article Detail Page

American Journal of Physics
written by David E. Meltzer
Many studies have shown that pre-university students have substantial learning difficulties related to heat, temperature, and related concepts. However, very few investigations have been reported that focus on student learning of thermal physics concepts at the university level. Here we report on an investigation of reasoning regarding heat, work, and the first law of thermodynamics among students in an introductory calculus-based general physics course. Responses to written questions by 653 students in three separate courses were very consistent with results of detailed individual interviews carried out with 32 students in a fourth course. Although most students seemed to acquire a reasonable grasp of the state function concept, it was found that there was a widespread and persistent tendency to improperly over-generalize this concept to apply to both work and heat. A large majority thought that net work done and/or net heat absorbed by a system during a cyclic process must be zero, while only 20% or fewer were able to make effective use of the first law of thermodynamics even after instruction was completed. Students' difficulties seemed to stem in part from the fact that heat, work, and internal energy all share the same units. Results were consistent with those of previously published studies of students in U.S. and European universities, but portray a pervasiveness of confusion regarding process-dependent quantities that was previously unreported. The implication is that significant enhancements of current standard instruction may be required for students to master basic thermodynamic concepts.
American Journal of Physics: Volume 72, Issue 11, Pages 1432-1446
Subjects ADS Supplements Resource Types
Education Foundations
- Assessment
General Physics
- Physics Education Research
Thermo & Stat Mech
- First Law
- Reference Material
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© 2004 American Journal of Physics
Additional information is available.
DOI:
10.1119/1.1789161
Keywords:
educational courses, heat, physics education, teaching, thermodynamics
Record Creator:
Metadata instance created July 13, 2005 by Lyle Barbato
Record Updated:
June 22, 2009 by Anne Cox
Last Update
when Cataloged:
November 1, 2004
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Record Link
AIP Format
D. Meltzer, Am. J. Phys. 72 (11), 1432 (2004), WWW Document, (http://dx.doi.org/10.1119/1.1789161).
AJP/PRST-PER
D. Meltzer, Investigation of students' reasoning regarding heat, work, and the first law of thermodynamics in an introductory calculus-based general physics course, Am. J. Phys. 72 (11), 1432 (2004), <http://dx.doi.org/10.1119/1.1789161>.
APA Format
Meltzer, D. (2004, November 1). Investigation of students' reasoning regarding heat, work, and the first law of thermodynamics in an introductory calculus-based general physics course. Am. J. Phys., 72(11), 1432-1446. Retrieved December 23, 2014, from http://dx.doi.org/10.1119/1.1789161
Chicago Format
Meltzer, David. "Investigation of students' reasoning regarding heat, work, and the first law of thermodynamics in an introductory calculus-based general physics course." Am. J. Phys. 72, no. 11, (November 1, 2004): 1432-1446, http://dx.doi.org/10.1119/1.1789161 (accessed 23 December 2014).
MLA Format
Meltzer, David. "Investigation of students' reasoning regarding heat, work, and the first law of thermodynamics in an introductory calculus-based general physics course." Am. J. Phys. 72.11 (2004): 1432-1446. 23 Dec. 2014 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1119/1.1789161>.
BibTeX Export Format
@article{ Author = "David Meltzer", Title = {Investigation of students' reasoning regarding heat, work, and the first law of thermodynamics in an introductory calculus-based general physics course}, Journal = {Am. J. Phys.}, Volume = {72}, Number = {11}, Pages = {1432-1446}, Month = {November}, Year = {2004} }
Refer Export Format

%A David Meltzer
%T Investigation of students' reasoning regarding heat, work, and the first law of thermodynamics in an introductory calculus-based general physics course
%J Am. J. Phys.
%V 72
%N 11
%D November 1, 2004
%P 1432-1446
%U http://dx.doi.org/10.1119/1.1789161
%O text/html

EndNote Export Format

%0 Journal Article
%A Meltzer, David
%D November 1, 2004
%T Investigation of students' reasoning regarding heat, work, and the first law of thermodynamics in an introductory calculus-based general physics course
%J Am. J. Phys.
%V 72
%N 11
%P 1432-1446
%8 November 1, 2004
%U http://dx.doi.org/10.1119/1.1789161


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