Identifying and Repairing Student Misconceptions in Thermal and Transport Science: Concept Inventories and Schema Training Studies

Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 2011


Engineers need to possess a deep understanding of the fundamental concepts of their field. Even advanced engineering students, however, may hold misconceptions that are "robust" or resistant to instruction.[1] This paper describes an integration of two ongoing research lines combining identification of students' misconceptions of difficult engineering concepts with efforts to repair some particularly robust misconceptions. Previous studies reported that misconceptions related to heat transfer, fluid mechanics, thermodynamics, and other engineering and science concepts persist among engineering students even after they completed college-level courses in the subjects.[2] Therefore, the first line of our research is focused on two research questions:

• "What important concepts in thermal and transport science are difficult for engineering students to learn?"

• "How can a valid and reliable instrument be developed to identify engineering student misconceptions of these difficult and important concepts?"

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