Student ideas regarding entropy and the second law of thermodynamics in an introductory physics course

Warren M. Christensen, David Meltzer, C. A. Ogilvie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

45 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We report on students’ thinking regarding entropy in an introductory calculus-based physics course. We analyzed students’ responses to a variety of questions on entropy changes of an arbitrarily defined system and its surroundings. In four offerings of the same course we found that before instruction, no more than 6% of all students could give completely correct responses to relevant questions posed in both general and concrete contexts. Nearly two-thirds of the students showed clear evidence of conservation-type reasoning regarding entropy. These outcomes were little changed even after instruction. Targeted instruction that guided students to recognize that entropy is not a conserved quantity appears to yield improved performance on qualitative questions related to this concept.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)907-917
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Physics
Volume77
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2009

Fingerprint

students
entropy
thermodynamics
physics
education
calculus
conservation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

Cite this

Student ideas regarding entropy and the second law of thermodynamics in an introductory physics course. / Christensen, Warren M.; Meltzer, David; Ogilvie, C. A.

In: American Journal of Physics, Vol. 77, No. 10, 01.01.2009, p. 907-917.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{a0e29511ce4a477bb434f51be37ec0f9,
title = "Student ideas regarding entropy and the second law of thermodynamics in an introductory physics course",
abstract = "We report on students’ thinking regarding entropy in an introductory calculus-based physics course. We analyzed students’ responses to a variety of questions on entropy changes of an arbitrarily defined system and its surroundings. In four offerings of the same course we found that before instruction, no more than 6{\%} of all students could give completely correct responses to relevant questions posed in both general and concrete contexts. Nearly two-thirds of the students showed clear evidence of conservation-type reasoning regarding entropy. These outcomes were little changed even after instruction. Targeted instruction that guided students to recognize that entropy is not a conserved quantity appears to yield improved performance on qualitative questions related to this concept.",
author = "Christensen, {Warren M.} and David Meltzer and Ogilvie, {C. A.}",
year = "2009",
month = "1",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1119/1.3167357",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "77",
pages = "907--917",
journal = "American Journal of Physics",
issn = "0002-9505",
publisher = "American Association of Physics Teachers",
number = "10",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Student ideas regarding entropy and the second law of thermodynamics in an introductory physics course

AU - Christensen, Warren M.

AU - Meltzer, David

AU - Ogilvie, C. A.

PY - 2009/1/1

Y1 - 2009/1/1

N2 - We report on students’ thinking regarding entropy in an introductory calculus-based physics course. We analyzed students’ responses to a variety of questions on entropy changes of an arbitrarily defined system and its surroundings. In four offerings of the same course we found that before instruction, no more than 6% of all students could give completely correct responses to relevant questions posed in both general and concrete contexts. Nearly two-thirds of the students showed clear evidence of conservation-type reasoning regarding entropy. These outcomes were little changed even after instruction. Targeted instruction that guided students to recognize that entropy is not a conserved quantity appears to yield improved performance on qualitative questions related to this concept.

AB - We report on students’ thinking regarding entropy in an introductory calculus-based physics course. We analyzed students’ responses to a variety of questions on entropy changes of an arbitrarily defined system and its surroundings. In four offerings of the same course we found that before instruction, no more than 6% of all students could give completely correct responses to relevant questions posed in both general and concrete contexts. Nearly two-thirds of the students showed clear evidence of conservation-type reasoning regarding entropy. These outcomes were little changed even after instruction. Targeted instruction that guided students to recognize that entropy is not a conserved quantity appears to yield improved performance on qualitative questions related to this concept.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84894465127&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84894465127&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1119/1.3167357

DO - 10.1119/1.3167357

M3 - Article

VL - 77

SP - 907

EP - 917

JO - American Journal of Physics

JF - American Journal of Physics

SN - 0002-9505

IS - 10

ER -