Date of Thesis



Misconceptions about heat and temperature have been seen across all educational levels, even in undergraduate engineering courses. One way these misconceptions can be remediated is through instructional methods, such as inquiry-based activities. Performance on assessments in sciences and engineering has been found to vary when gender is taken into consideration. The purpose of the current study was to investigate the effects of participant gender, professor gender, and level of inquiry-based activities on the conceptual understanding of 247 undergraduate engineering students in thermodynamics. A pre-test post-test design was used. Conceptual understanding of thermodynamics was measured by students’ scores on the Concept Inventory for Engineering Thermodynamics (CIET; Vigeant, Prince & Nottis, 2011). Inquiry-based activities were developed by the researchers and given to professors who determined if they would do all, some, or none of them as they taught. Significant differences were found among participants of different gender, different gender of the professor instructing the course, and level of inquiry-based activity. The participants who were exposed to all of the activities provided didsignificantly better on the post-test than those who were only exposed to some or none of the activities. The results from this current study indicated that differences in gender, professorgender, and level of inquiry-based activity has an effect on undergraduate engineering students’ conceptual understanding of thermodynamics. Future research should investigate more factorsthat contribute to lower representation of women in the engineering field.


Engineering, Thermodynamics, Gender, Professor Gender, Inquiry-Based Activities

Access Type

Masters Thesis (Bucknell Access Only)

Degree Type

Master of Science in Education


Education - college student personnel

First Advisor

Katharyn Nottis