FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions
Student Ideas about the State-Function Property of Entropy*
Warren M. Christensen, David E. Meltzer, Thomas A. Stroman
Iowa State University, IA
To develop an understanding of the state-function property
of entropy is often a key objective of the introductory physics
curriculum. We have been investigating the development of students'
reasoning regarding this concept in the context of both algebra- and
calculus-based general physics courses, with particular attention to
the possible role played by students' ideas regarding other basic
thermodynamic quantities such as heat, work, and internal energy. We
will present pre- and post-instruction data reflecting student
performance on entropy-related questions in various contexts.
Preliminary analysis suggests superior post-instruction performance on
questions employing P-V diagrams that show diverse processes with
common initial and final states, in comparison to a similar verbal
question involving a cyclic process.
*Supported in part by NSF grants #DUE-9981140 and