Date of Thesis



Engineering students continue to develop and show misconceptions due to prior knowledge and experiences (Miller, Streveler, Olds, Chi, Nelson, & Geist, 2007). Misconceptions have been documented in students’ understanding of heat transfer(Krause, Decker, Niska, Alford, & Griffin, 2003) by concept inventories (e.g., Jacobi,Martin, Mitchell, & Newell, 2003; Nottis, Prince, Vigeant, Nelson, & Hartsock, 2009). Students’ conceptual understanding has also been shown to vary by grade point average (Nottis et al., 2009). Inquiry-based activities (Nottis, Prince, & Vigeant, 2010) haveshown some success over traditional instructional methods (Tasoglu & Bakac, 2010) in altering misconceptions. The purpose of the current study was to determine whether undergraduate engineering students’ understanding of heat transfer concepts significantly changed after instruction with eight inquiry-based activities (Prince & Felder, 2007) supplementing instruction and whether students’ self reported GPA and prior knowledge, as measured by completion of specific engineering courses, affected these changes. The Heat and Energy Concept Inventory (Prince, Vigeant, & Nottis, 2010) was used to assess conceptual understanding. It was found that conceptual understanding significantly increased from pre- to post-test. It was also found that GPA had an effect on conceptual understanding of heat transfer; significant differences were found in post-test scores onthe concept inventory between GPA groups. However, there were mixed results when courses previously taken were analyzed. Future research should strive to analyze how prior knowledge effects conceptual understanding and aim to reduce the limitations of the current study such as, sampling method and methods of measuring GPA and priorknowledge.


heat transfer, misconception, conceptual understanding

Access Type

Masters Thesis (Bucknell Access Only)

Degree Type

Master of Science in Education


Education - college student personnel

First Advisor

Katharyn Nottis