Journal Article Detail Page

American Journal of Physics
written by Michael E. Loverude, Christian H. Kautz, and Paula R. L. Heron
We report on an investigation of student understanding of the first law of thermodynamics. The students involved were drawn from first-year university physics courses and a second-year thermal physics course. The emphasis was on the ability of the students to relate the first law to the adiabatic compression of an ideal gas. Although they had studied the first law, few students recognized its relevance. Fewer still were able to apply the concept of work to account for a change in temperature in an adiabatic process. Instead most of the students based their predictions and explanations on a misinterpretation of the ideal gas law. Even when ideas of energy and work were suggested, many students were unable to give a correct analysis. They frequently failed to differentiate the concepts of heat, temperature, work, and internal energy. Some of the difficulties that students had in applying the concept of work in a thermal process seemed to be related to difficulties with mechanics. Our findings also suggest that a misinterpretation of simple microscopic models may interfere with student ability to understand macroscopic phenomena. Implications for instruction in thermal physics and in mechanics are discussed.
American Journal of Physics: Volume 70, Issue 2, Pages 137-148
Subjects ADS Supplements Resource Types
Education - Basic Research
- Assessment
General Physics
- Physics Education Research
Thermo & Stat Mech
- First Law
= Adiabatic Processes
- Reference Material
= Research study
PER User's Guide Type Intended Users Ratings
- PER Literature
- Educators
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© 2002 American Journal of Physics
Additional information is available.
DOI:
10.1119/1.1417532
Keywords:
compressibility, 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:
February 1, 2002
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Record Link
AIP Format
M. Loverude, C. Kautz, and P. Heron, Am. J. Phys. 70 (2), 137 (2002), WWW Document, (http://dx.doi.org/10.1119/1.1417532).
AJP/PRST-PER
M. Loverude, C. Kautz, and P. Heron, Student understanding of the first law of thermodynamics: Relating work to the adiabatic compression of an ideal gas, Am. J. Phys. 70 (2), 137 (2002), <http://dx.doi.org/10.1119/1.1417532>.
APA Format
Loverude, M., Kautz, C., & Heron, P. (2002, February 1). Student understanding of the first law of thermodynamics: Relating work to the adiabatic compression of an ideal gas. Am. J. Phys., 70(2), 137-148. Retrieved October 21, 2014, from http://dx.doi.org/10.1119/1.1417532
Chicago Format
Loverude, M, C. Kautz, and P. Heron. "Student understanding of the first law of thermodynamics: Relating work to the adiabatic compression of an ideal gas." Am. J. Phys. 70, no. 2, (February 1, 2002): 137-148, http://dx.doi.org/10.1119/1.1417532 (accessed 21 October 2014).
MLA Format
Loverude, Michael, Christian Kautz, and Paula Heron. "Student understanding of the first law of thermodynamics: Relating work to the adiabatic compression of an ideal gas." Am. J. Phys. 70.2 (2002): 137-148. 21 Oct. 2014 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1119/1.1417532>.
BibTeX Export Format
@article{ Author = "Michael Loverude and Christian Kautz and Paula Heron", Title = {Student understanding of the first law of thermodynamics: Relating work to the adiabatic compression of an ideal gas}, Journal = {Am. J. Phys.}, Volume = {70}, Number = {2}, Pages = {137-148}, Month = {February}, Year = {2002} }
Refer Export Format

%A Michael Loverude
%A Christian Kautz
%A Paula Heron
%T Student understanding of the first law of thermodynamics: Relating work to the adiabatic compression of an ideal gas
%J Am. J. Phys.
%V 70
%N 2
%D February 1, 2002
%P 137-148
%U http://dx.doi.org/10.1119/1.1417532
%O text/html

EndNote Export Format

%0 Journal Article
%A Loverude, Michael
%A Kautz, Christian
%A Heron, Paula
%D February 1, 2002
%T Student understanding of the first law of thermodynamics: Relating work to the adiabatic compression of an ideal gas
%J Am. J. Phys.
%V 70
%N 2
%P 137-148
%8 February 1, 2002
%U http://dx.doi.org/10.1119/1.1417532


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