Investigating Learning and Improving Teaching in Engineering Thermodynamics Guided by Constructive Alignment and Competency Modeling

Part II. Assessment and Exam Design




Contributing to a competency model for engineering thermodynamics, we investigate the empirical competency structure of our exams in an attempt to answer the question: Do we test the competencies we want to convey to our students? We demonstrate that thermodynamic modeling and mathematical solution emerge as significant dimensions of thermodynamic competency. Furthermore, we show how we were able to improve exam quality and raise our awareness about what actually makes exam tasks easy or difficult.

Author Biographies

Thorsten Braun, University of Stuttgart

Thorsten Braun works as a higher education developer and educational researcher at the Center for Higher Education and Lifelong Learning at the University of Stuttgart. He studied sociology, political science, and law at the Technical University of Darmstadt and the Philipps University of Marburg. In 2020, he completed his PhD thesis on influencing factors on study success, based on a mixed methods case study of a course in engineering thermodynamics. ORCID 0000-0002-8418-2520.


Rolf Stierle, University of Stuttgart

Rolf Stierle is a research associate in the group of Joachim Gross at the University of Stuttgart, where he also teaches a course on non-equilibrium thermodynamics. He studied chemical engineering at the University of Stuttgart and received his PhD for his work on non-equilibrium processes at vapor-liquid interfaces. His research interests include the incorporation of molecular detail into non-equilibrium models of interfacial processes based on classical density functional theory. ORCID: 0000-0001-7475-7207

Matthias Fischer, University of Stuttgart

Matthias Fischer is a former research assistant in the group of Joachim Gross at the University of Stuttgart. There he assisted in teaching and organizing numerous courses, including Engineering Thermodynamics 1/2. He studied chemical engineering at the University of Stuttgart and received his PhD in the area of molecular simulations for dynamic properties of fluids. He now works in industry on research and development of drying systems for agricultural products. ORCID: 0000-0002-9832-629X 


Joachim Gross, University of Stuttgart

Joachim Gross is Professor of Thermodynamics and Thermal Process Engineering and Dean of Chemical Engineering Studies at the University of Stuttgart. He received his chemical engineering education at the Technical University of Berlin and, after 4 years in industry, was appointed Professor of Separation Technology and later Engineering Thermodynamics at Delft University of Technology. His research focuses on prediction of physical properties based on molecular methods and non-equilibrium thermodynamics to improve the efficiency of thermal separation processes. ORCID: 0000-0001-8632-357X