Using video media to enhance conceptual learning in an undergraduate thermodynamics course

James P. Abulencia, Margot A. Vigeant, David L. Silverstein

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

9 Scopus citations


This project addresses the need for changing undergraduate chemical engineering education to take advantage of skills possessed by a media savvy generation of students. A student's conceptual understanding is often decoupled from their problem solving ability. In other words, mathematical solutions are often attained in the absence of fully understanding the physical system and/or meaning of the result. Introductory thermodynamics is an undergraduate chemical engineering course wherein confusion in fundamental concepts may create a significant barrier in effectively solving problems. Some of these concepts are abstract, causing many students to not easily relate to them. A collaborative team from Manhattan College, Bucknell University, and the University of Kentucky will enhance conceptual learning through a new and innovative approach. We will have students: 1) develop an instructional video that teaches a concept in thermodynamics using common metaphors, and 2) watch a similarly constructed instructional video developed by peers at a separate institution. The former employs autodidactic learning, while the latter takes advantage of peer-to-peer learning. To measure the effects of these treatments on conceptual learning, our project will execute: 1) a baseline assessment using a thermodynamics concept inventory, and 2) a post-treatment assessment using a similar instrument. Additionally, student affective domain responses will be measured with a questionnaire using standard Likert ratings. This project has broad implications for increasing conceptual understanding in thermodynamics for both undergraduate engineering students and the general public. Thermodynamics is a core course in other engineering disciplines (e.g., mechanical engineering). Thus, the videos generated from this project are designed to impact a wide range of engineering students. Moreover, the use of publically accessible cloud-based service to host the videos will guarantee broad and rapid availability to institutions of higher education and the general public. As the collection of videos grows, students from diverse backgrounds and capabilities will find one that addresses their individual needs and learning style. Finally, faculty embracing this project will have an opportunity to have their students view the videos to supplement lectures, as well as contribute to the collection. With respect to the general public, non-engineers curious about thermodynamic principles will have an opportunity to gain insight on a particular concept, because the instructional videos will use ordinary examples.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication119th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition
StatePublished - 2012
Event119th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - San Antonio, TX, United States
Duration: Jun 10 2012Jun 13 2012

Publication series

NameASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
ISSN (Electronic)2153-5965


Conference119th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Antonio, TX

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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