Investigation of student understanding of hydrostatics and thermal physics and of the underlying concepts from mechanics
Loverude, Michael Eric, 1968-
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This dissertation describes an investigation of student understanding of hydrostatics and thermal physics in first- and second-year university physics courses. We found that after standard instruction many students have serious conceptual and reasoning difficulties with this material. Some of these difficulties seemed to be connected to underlying difficulties with concepts from introductory mechanics. We have examined the extent to which difficulties with mechanics affect student performance on qualitative questions involving hydrostatic pressure, buoyancy, and the first law of thermodynamics. Evidence is presented that many of the conceptual difficulties identified are due in part to incorrect ideas that students have about introductory mechanics and in part to many students' inability to apply correct ideas from mechanics in new contexts. The results of this research have been used to develop supplementary curriculum. The instructional materials have been assessed and proven to be effective.
- Physics