A surprise 40-min Pre-requisite Exam was administered in the first week of a Thermodynamics II course to assess pre-requisite knowledge of Thermodynamics I curriculum, and achievement of associated learning outcomes. This exam placed particular interest on students’ understanding of concepts related to transient analysis. Students’ performance on this Pre-requisite Exam would not negatively impact their grades in Thermodynamics II, and if at all counted, could be used toward extra credit. The Pre-requisite Exam was mostly motivated by reported/perceived positive enhancements in sections of Thermodynamics I, and interest in identifying and demonstrating additional robust yet pragmatic methods of assessing the extent to these enhancements. From the instructors’ perspectives, correlations might potentially be able to be made between Pre-requisite Exam performance and previous Thermodynamics I experiences, addressing questions such as, “what might be the effect of the time between a student successfully completing the pre-requisite course, and performance in the post-requisite Thermodynamics II course?”; “can the impact of any particular student experiences or teaching and learning strategies implemented in the pre-requisite course be identified as positively affecting performance and achievement in the post-requisite Thermodynamics II course?” The Pre-requisite Exam administered in the beginning of a Thermodynamics II course provides a data point in addressing such questions. The primary motivation of this study was to provide further assessment of positive results that were obtained in implementing collaborative projects with simulation components as high impact practices into a Thermodynamics I course. The results of the present study have indicated that the implementation of such a collaborative project into sections of Thermodynamics I did not directly result in better performance on the specific pre-requisite exam problem. Further, it was observed that the amount of time that had passed since a student had completed the Thermodynamics I course, did not impact performance on this exam problem. The method of administering Pre-requisite Exams is demonstrated and suggested as a method which can be strategically utilized to uncover, describe, and assess the impact (or lack thereof) of specific perceived enhancements in the curriculum.
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