Open Inquiry Investigations on Heat Transfer Performed byUndergraduate Engineering Students

Risultato della ricerca: Conference contribution


Many researches have shown the pedagogical effectiveness of structured inquiry as a high performancetool in science education of undergraduate engineering students. In this paper we report the preliminaryresults of an extended investigation on the efficacy of the application of an open inquiry approach tothe consolidation of the physics concepts regarding the topic of thermal energy transfer. We selected asample of undergraduate mechanical engineering students, who passed the examination of the basicphysics courses with good marks. Firstly, we investigated about resistant misconceptions in thermalphysics by administrating a pre-activity questionnaire. Even the best marked students showed severaldeficiencies for what concerns, in particular, the practical knowledge of the physics of energy exchangeby thermal radiation. Our open inquiry activity involved the students in a highly challenging learningenvironment, starting from the problem of projecting a thermodynamically efficient space base onMars. Students were asked to work in groups and to perform scientific investigations regarding thebest materials to use in the construction and the best design strategies to practice in order to collect asmuch thermal energy as possible during the Martian day. Students were stimulated to design and carryout their own laboratory activity by collecting, processing and analysing data, in order to discover newconcepts and obtain more meaningful conceptual understanding of the physics underlying the processof thermal energy exchange by conduction, convection and radiation. All groups of students were invitedto share the results of their explorative works within each other during the final discussion. Lastly, a finalpost-activity evaluation test was administered. Our open inquiry learning path has proved to be a greatopportunity of enhancing the practical and reasoning skills of our engineering students. Here we discussin detail the advantages and limits of the open inquiry-based teaching approach.
Lingua originaleEnglish
Titolo della pubblicazione ospiteProceedings of the World Conference on Physics Education 2012, Publisher: PEGEM Akademi.
Numero di pagine11
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2014


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