Implementation of a modular hands-on learning pedagogy: Student attitudes in a fluid mechanics and heat transfer course

Jacqueline K. Burgher


This study used a within-subjects experimental design to compare the effects of learning with lecture and hands-on desktop learning modules in a fluid mechanics and heat transfer class. The hands-on DLM implementation included the use of worksheets and one of two heat exchangers: an evaporative cooling device and a shell and tube heat exchanger. A survey was administered at the end of the course to assess students’ attitudes and self-identified conceptual understanding for the DLMs and lecture. Results indicate that 72% of students receiving the hands-on DLM treatment thought it helped more than lecture; of those receiving lecture, 40% thought that it helped more than the DLM to learn heat transfer concepts. With respect to conceptual understanding, 72% of students agreed they understand and can apply principles related to heat exchangers well, with 28% unsure of their own conceptual understanding. Nearly a third of the free responses indicate students also want lecture in the classroom, with a corollary that the DLMs are only effective after a foundation in heat transfer has been established. Thus, one practical implication of the study is that lectures should first be used to explicate concepts and provide a good foundation that can then be developed further through the use of modular DLMs.


modular learning; chemical engineering; attitude

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JSTEM. ISSN: 1557-5284