Repairing student misconceptions using ontology training: A study with junior and senior undergraduate engineering students

Dazhi Yang, Aidsa Santiago Roman, Ruth Streveler, Ronald Miller, James Slotta, Michelene Chi

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Previous studies reported that misconceptions related to heat transfer, fluid mechanics, and thermodynamics, persist among engineering juniors and seniors even after they have completed college-level courses in the subjects. This study focuses on developing methods to repair some particularly robust misconceptions in diffusion, heat transfer, and microfluidics. Three online training modules were created in Blackboard that provided instruction about two distinct scientific processes (sequential and emergent processes), heat transfer, diffusion and microfluidics. An experimental study with 60 juniors and seniors undergraduate engineering students was conducted at a large Midwestern US university. Experimental and control cohorts completed the on-line multimedia modules including macroscopic and microscopic simulations of heat transfer and diffusion processes. Quantitative data were collected through multiplechoice questions assessing conceptual knowledge of diffusion, heat transfer, and microfluidics. In addition, qualitative data were collected through participants' verbal explanations of their multiple choice answers. Both quantitative and qualitative results indicate that there was statistically significant improvement in the experimental cohort compared to the control cohort in conceptual understanding of diffusion and microfluidics processes but there was no significant improvement in heat transfer. This result might be attributed to a "pedagogical learning impediment" associated with participants having taken prior heat transfer courses or which assessment questions which did not adequately probe for conceptual understanding of heat transfer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - 2010
Event2010 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - Louisville, KY, United States
Duration: Jun 20 2010Jun 23 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)


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