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written by Warren M. Christensen
This thesis constitutes an investigation into student understanding of concepts in thermal physics in an introductory calculus-based university physics course. Nearly 90% of students enrolled in the course had previous exposure to thermodynamics concepts in chemistry and/or high-school physics courses. The two major thrusts of this work are (1) an exploration of student approaches to solving calorimetry problems involving two substances with differing specific heats, and (2) a careful probing of student ideas regarding certain aspects of entropy and the second law of thermodynamics. We present extensive free-response, interview, and multiple-choice data regarding students' ideas, collected both before and after instruction from a diverse set of course semesters and instructors. For topics in calorimetry, we found via interviews that students frequently get confused by, or tend to overlook, the detailed proportional reasoning or algebraic procedures that could lead to correct solutions. Instead, students often proceed with semi-intuitive reasoning that at times may be productive, but more often leads to inconsistencies and non-uniform conceptual understanding. Our investigation of student thinking regarding entropy suggests that prior to instruction, students have consistent and distinct patterns of incorrect or incomplete responses that often persist despite deliberate and focused efforts by the instructor. With modified instruction based on research-based materials, significant learning gains were observed on certain key concepts, e.g., that the entropy of the universe increases for all non-ideal processes. The methodology for our work is described, the data are discussed and analyzed, and a description is given of goals for future work in this area.
University: Iowa State University
Academic Department:  Physics and Astronomy
Pages 275
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Subjects Levels Resource Types
Education Foundations
- Alternative Conceptions
Other Sciences
- Chemistry
Thermo & Stat Mech
- Second and Third Law
= Entropy
- Thermal Properties of Matter
- Lower Undergraduate
- Instructional Material
= Tutorial
- Reference Material
= Thesis/Dissertation
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© 2007 Warren Michael Christensen
Type:
Ph.D.
ISBN Number:
9780549154839
NSF Numbers:
9981140
0243258
0311450
0406724
0604703
Record Creator:
Metadata instance created August 4, 2012 by Lyle Barbato
Record Updated:
February 13, 2013 by Lyle Barbato
Last Update
when Cataloged:
June 22, 2007
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AIP Format
W. Christensen, Ph.D., Iowa State University, 2007, WWW Document, (http://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=12337&DocID=3068).
AJP/PRST-PER
W. Christensen, An investigation of student thinking regarding calorimetry, entropy, and the second law of thermodynamics Ph.D., Iowa State University, 2007, <http://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=12337&DocID=3068>.
APA Format
Christensen, W. (2007, June 22). An investigation of student thinking regarding calorimetry, entropy, and the second law of thermodynamics (Ph.D., Iowa State University, 2007). Retrieved August 22, 2014, from http://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=12337&DocID=3068
Chicago Format
Christensen, Warren M.. "An investigation of student thinking regarding calorimetry, entropy, and the second law of thermodynamics." Ph.D., Iowa State University, 2007. http://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=12337&DocID=3068 (accessed 22 August 2014).
MLA Format
Christensen, Warren M.. "An investigation of student thinking regarding calorimetry, entropy, and the second law of thermodynamics." Ph.D.. 22 June 2007. Iowa State University, 2007. 22 Aug. 2014 <http://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=12337&DocID=3068>.
BibTeX Export Format
@phdthesis{ Author = "Warren M. Christensen", Title = {An investigation of student thinking regarding calorimetry, entropy, and the second law of thermodynamics}, School = {Iowa State University}, Type = {Ph.D.}, Month = {June}, Year = {2007} }
Refer Export Format

%A Warren M. Christensen
%T An investigation of student thinking regarding calorimetry, entropy, and the second law of thermodynamics
%R Ph.D.
%D June 22, 2007
%P 275
%I Iowa State University
%U http://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=12337&DocID=3068
%O Physics and Astronomy
%O application/pdf
%O Ph.D.

EndNote Export Format

%0 Thesis
%A Christensen, Warren M.
%D June 22, 2007
%T An investigation of student thinking regarding calorimetry, entropy, and the second law of thermodynamics
%B Physics and Astronomy
%I Iowa State University
%P 275
%8 June 22, 2007
%9 Ph.D.
%@ 9780549154839
%U http://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=12337&DocID=3068


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