Determining Students Conceptual Understanding Level of Thermodynamics

Creative Commons License

Sarıçayır H. , Ay S., Cansız G., Üce M.

Journal of Education and Training Studies, cilt.4, ss.69-79, 2016 (Diğer Kurumların Hakemli Dergileri)

  • Cilt numarası: 4
  • Basım Tarihi: 2016
  • Doi Numarası: 10.11114/jets.v4i6.1421
  • Dergi Adı: Journal of Education and Training Studies
  • Sayfa Sayıları: ss.69-79


Science students find heat, temperature, enthalpy and energy in chemical reactions to be some of the most difficult

subjects. It is crucial to define their conceptual understanding level in these subjects so that educators can build upon

this knowledge and introduce new thermodynamics concepts. This paper reports conceptual understanding levels of

high school students of common thermodynamics subjects such as heat, temperature, enthalpy and energy changes in

chemical reactions. The sample of the study was composed of 418 randomly selected students from 11 different high

schools. A cross sectional survey model was employed in this study. Data were collected through the Conceptual

Understanding Test (CUT), which consists of 16 questions. Cronbach's alpha reliability coefficient for the test was 0.72.

Besides, interviews were conducted with 10 students to get qualitative data about their beliefs on the subject. The results

of the study indicated that students’ level of conceptual understanding in thermodynamics concepts is very low. It was

observed to be especially low for the concepts of (1) relationship between energy, enthalpy and bonds in chemical

reactions, (2) energy and catalysts in chemical reactions, (3) changes in heat, temperature and enthalpy during change of

state, and (4) the relationship between heat, temperature, mass and specific heat. Most of the students in this study do

not fully understand common thermodynamics concepts although they have been studying these topics since primary