AAPT Abstract Archive

Abstract Information

  Session: Upper Division Undergraduate
  Paper Type: Contributed
  Title: Using Expert Solutions to Map a Thermodynamics Maze
  Meeting: 2013 Winter Meeting: New Orleans, Louisiana
  Location: N/A
  Time: 2:40PM
  Author: Mary Bridget Kustusch, Oregon State University
541-737-6080, mary.bridget@physics.oregonstate.edu
  Co-Author(s): David Roundy, Tevian Dray, Corinne A. Manogue
  Abstract: One of the challenges that upper-division students face in dealing with thermodynamics is the multitude of ways one can deal with the sea of partial derivatives. We conducted interviews with experts (faculty and graduate students), asking them to solve a challenging thermodynamics problem in order to better understand what is required to successfully solve these problems. This presentation discusses a procedural task analysis that uses these expert solutions to identify three choices that must be addressed in order to solve the problem: (1) what mathematical formalism to use, (2) which energy equation(s) to employ, and (3) how to deal with variables that are held constant (entropy, in this case). Any successful route through the problem must address these decision points and could be categorized in terms of these choices. The physical and mathematical sense-making surrounding these decisions will be addressed in a separate presentation.
  Footnotes: None

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