Hands-on Tabletop Units for Addressing Persistent Conceptual Difficulties in Continuity and Frictional Loss in Fluid Mechanics

  • Xuesong Li
  • Bernard Vanwie
Keywords: chemical engineering, mathematical models


The difficulty in covering chemical engineering concepts using traditional lectures and whiteboard teaching approaches means today’s students’ learning demands are unfulfilled, so alternate methods are needed. Desktop learning modules (DLMs) are designed to show industrial fluid flow and heat transfer concepts in a standard classroom so students can immediately gain an intuitive understanding of processes and combine mathematical models with physical reality. In a previous engineering class on open channel flow concepts, a large average effect size, d=0.98, between the experimental and control group shows a statistically significant gain. In this paper, we build on this approach by the design of two simple classroom DLMs to demonstrate continuity and pressure drop. Our approach consists of a take home quiz, worksheet, pretest and posttest assessments, and an end of semester survey. Pretest and Posttest results show there were no significant differences between the DLM and lecture groups; however, both improved their performance on posttests. Survey assessment results show both DLM and lecture students strongly favor a mix of DLM with lectures rather than having one predominant approach.