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Evaluating the Effectiveness of Modelling-Oriented Workshops for Engineering Undergraduates in the Field of Thermally Activated Phenomena

  • Authors: Battaglia OR; Di Paola B; Persano Adorno D; Pizzolato N; Fazio C
  • Publication year: 2019
  • Type: Articolo in rivista (Articolo in rivista)
  • OA Link:


Two 20-h modelling-based workshops focused on the explanation of ther- mally activated phenomena were held at the University of Palermo, Italy, during the Academic Year 2014–2015. One of them was conducted by applying an inquiry-based approach, while the other, still based on laboratory and modelling activities, was not focused on inquiry. Seventy-two students belonging to the Undergraduate Program for Chemical Engineering attended the two workshops. The related content was focused on an à la Feynman unifying approach to thermally activated phenomena. Question- naires were administered to the students of both groups, before and post instruction. Responses were analysed using k-means cluster analysis and students’ inferred lines of reasoning about the description and explanation of phenomena were studied in both groups. We find that both workshops can be considered effective in improving student’s reasoning skills. However, the inquiry-based approach revealed to be more effective than the traditional one in helping students to build mechanisms of func- tioning and explicative models and to identify common aspects in apparently different phenomena.