Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation

 

Exploring Student and Expert Understanding of Thermodynamic Potentials, Legendre Transformations, and Independent Variables in Thermodynamics Public Deposited

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https://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/3197xs527

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  • Thermodynamic potentials are energies that can describe a thermodynamic system in terms of different mathematically independent variables. Some of these potentials describe particular thermodynamic systems or processes in particularly convenient ways. In this dissertation, I discuss the different ways that students and experts reason about quantities in thermodynamics within the context of thermodynamic potentials. I find that selecting a thermodynamic potential by attending to its mathematically independent variables is (1) challenging for students and (2) not how experts select a thermodynamic potential. Experts instead attend to what quantities they control and how quantities change. I incorporate these findings in an instructional activity that teaches about such potentials to students.
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