Research Papers: Heat and Mass Transfer

Hands-On Workshops to Assist in Students' Conceptual Understanding of Heat Transfer

[+] Author and Article Information
Christopher F. Cirenza, Thomas E. Diller, Christopher B. Williams

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Virginia Tech,
Blacksburg, VA 24061

Contributed by the Heat Transfer Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF HEAT TRANSFER. Manuscript received March 4, 2017; final manuscript received March 14, 2018; published online May 22, 2018. Assoc. Editor: Amitabh Narain.

J. Heat Transfer 140(9), 092001 (May 22, 2018) (10 pages) Paper No: HT-17-1116; doi: 10.1115/1.4039759 History: Received March 04, 2017; Revised March 14, 2018

A two-year study was conducted to engage undergraduate mechanical engineering students to approach heat transfer education in an active, hands-on manner and excite them to pursue research and graduate studies in the field. Physical workshops were designed and implemented into junior level heat transfer classes, allowing students to feel and observe heat transfer using heat flux and temperature sensors that provided real-time data. These instruments, coupled with open-ended, challenge-based pedagogy, provided opportunities for students to explore important heat transfer concepts, such as the differences between heat and temperature. The conceptual knowledge of the students was assessed through concept-specific questions. These results were compared to those of a control group who took the traditional lecture without the workshops. The results yielded significantly higher scores for the experimental group in the first year but much less of a difference in the second year, which added video-enhanced workshops in place of the purely hands-on workshops. In addition to concept questions, surveys taken by the students reveal that the students much preferred the workshops in either form over not having them. They also believed the workshops strongly enhanced their learning by giving them a real, hands-on experience.

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Fig. 1

(a) (top) Screen shot of the LabVIEW program showing real time temperature and heat flux measurements from the fin, (b) (bottom left) averaged output data calculated using matlab, and (c) (bottom right) resultant plots from matlab

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Fig. 2

Results from final 19-question concept inventory split into the six different concepts they tested

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Fig. 3

Total scores on concept retention quiz from all of the previous year's heat transfer class sections

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Fig. 4

Percentage of students answering the energy balance question correctly for the different sections

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Fig. 5

Sensor introductory video screen shots showing: (top) an actual heat flux sensor and thermocouple and (bottom) a heat flux sensor diagram

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Fig. 6

Control volume and thermal resistance diagrams for the first workshop to help the students relate their experiment to problems they solve on tests and for homework




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