Investigation of Computational and VisualModules to Enhance Learning inUndergraduate Heat Transfer

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Conference Paper

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Engineering concepts can be difficult for some types of learners when the problem or system un- der consideration is difficult to visualize. Visual and computational tools can be a useful way to show students the problem thus making it easier to understand. This work looks at how new tools designed for thermalHUB.org can be use in an undergraduate heat transfer course to aid in the understanding and learning of specific concepts and engineering design. ThermalHUB.org is thermal science cyberinfrastructure comprised of community-contributed resources designed for educational applications, professional networking and research simulation tools for heat transfer. These tools allow additional depth and design content to be incorporated into the course. They have been used in the lectures as demonstrations of concepts and sample problems, they have been available as optional resources for assignments and they have been required for some assignments. The results have shown that students participated in a discussion about a concept more often during the demonstrations where they could ask for part of the problem to be changed and be able to see the solution change. The results also showed that when the tools were available, but not required very few students used them unless the tool was appealing for time saving, but when they were required to use the tools they were able to approach the problem and think about the fundamental concepts as opposed to focusing on getting the correct solution. These results show that the visual and computational tools used here were not necessary for many of the problems encountered for homework problems, but attractive for use on design type problems. A fair percentage of the students enjoyed and learned from the in-lecture demonstrations. A small percentage of the students chose to use the tools outside of class to better their understanding of the concepts instead of just learning enough to get the correct solution.

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