Development of engineering thermodynamics concept inventory instruments

K. C. Midkiff, T. A. Litzinger, D. L. Evans

Research output: Contribution to journalConference article

50 Scopus citations


Preliminary instruments for the assessment of undergraduate engineering student understanding of fundamental thermodynamics concept are presented. The Thermodynamics Concept Inventory (TCI) instruments are patterned after the existing Force Concept Inventory (FCI) instruments. Numerous studies have supported the efficacy of pre- and post-course administration of the FCI as a means of assessing the effectiveness of educational reform activities. The objective of the work reported here is to develop similar instruments for the assessment of engineering thermodynamics. Like the FCI, the Thermodynamics Concepts Inventory (TCI) instruments should be brief, require minimal or no computation, should produce repeatable results across broad, diverse student populations, and should succinctly assess student understanding of fundamental thermodynamics concepts. The availability of such TCI instruments will allow faculty to compare the pre- and post-course performances of a class, to compare the performance of their class to that of classes at other institutions, and to evaluate the effectiveness of educational reform efforts. Although the preliminary ("beta") versions of the TCI reported here are aimed at mechanical engineering students, they should be suitable for use in other engineering disciplines with slight modification. In mechanical engineering, it is common to teach thermodynamics in a two-semester sequence of courses. Consequently, two versions of the TCI are presented, an introductory version and a more advanced version for second-semester students. Sample questions from the TCI instruments are exhibited here, and results of preliminary testing of the inventory on small student populations are discussed. Beta versions of the TCI are available at the FIE conference. The authors are seeking interested faculty to conduct beta tests during the 2001-2002 academic year.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)F2A/3
JournalProceedings - Frontiers in Education Conference
StatePublished - Jan 1 2001
Event31st Annual Frontiers in Education Conference- Impact on Engineering and Science Education- - Reno, NV, United States
Duration: Oct 10 2001Oct 13 2001


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software
  • Education
  • Computer Science Applications

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