Physics and Astronomy
Journal or Book Title
American Journal of Physics
We report on students’ thinking regarding entropy in an introductory calculus-based physics course. We analyzed students’ responses to a variety of questions on entropy changes of an arbitrarily defined system and its surroundings. In four offerings of the same course we found that before instruction, no more than 6% of all students could give completely correct responses to relevant questions posed in both general and concrete contexts. Nearly two-thirds of the students showed clear evidence of conservation-type reasoning regarding entropy. These outcomes were little changed even after instruction. Targeted instruction that guided students to recognize that entropy is not a conserved quantity appears to yield improved performance on qualitative questions related to this concept.
This article is used in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
American Association of Physics Teachers
Christensen, Warren M.; Meltzer, David E.; and Ogilvie, Craig, "Student ideas regarding entropy and the second law of thermodynamics in an introductory physics course" (2009). Physics and Astronomy Publications. 216.