Inquiry-Based Activities to Correct Common Misconceptions in Heat Transfer and Thermodynamics

Students often enroll in thermodynamics courses with pre-existing misconceptions -- believing temperature, for instance, is how "hot" or "cold" something feels, conflating temperature and energy. Other frequently misunderstood concepts include rate of heat transfer versus amount of energy transferred. Interactive lab experiments have been designed to address and challenge students' misconceptions more effectively than traditional lectures. Prior work in this project demonstrated that physical experiments are the most effective at repairing student misconceptions and that simulations, while less effective, are still significantly more effective than lecture alone. Web-based computer simulations are a repeatable, cost-effective, and accessible medium for these inquiry activities compared to the financial overhead of conducting physical lab experiments. This work enabled the development of three new simulations and several modifications to older inquiry activities to make them scalable and user-friendly on mobile platforms.