Investigating thermoimaging in augmented multisensory learning about heat transfer

July 2nd, 2012 by Charles Xie
Jesper Haglund from Linköping University presents a poster about our Sweden-US collaborative research on thermal visualization at the 2012 World Conference on Physics Education held in Istanbul, Turkey. Below is the abstract of the poster:

"Infrared (IR) thermal imaging is a powerful technology which holds the pedagogical potential of ‘making the invisible visible’, and is becoming increasingly affordable for use in educational contexts. Science education research has identified many challenges and misconceptions related to students’ learning of thermodynamics, including disambiguation of temperature and heat, and a common belief that our sense of touch is an infallible thermometer. The purpose of the present study was to explore how thermal imaging technology might influence students’ conceptual understanding of heat and temperature. This was carried out by investigating three different conditions with respect to students exploration of the thermal phenomena of different objects (e.g. wood, metal and wool), namely the effect of students’ use of real-time imaging generated from a FLIR i3 IR camera, students’ interpretation of static IR images, and students’ deployment of traditional thermometer apparatus. Eight 7th-grade students (12-13 years old) worked in pairs across the three experimental conditions, and were asked to predict, observe and explain (POE) the temperature of a sheet-metal knife and a piece of wood before, during and after placing them in contact with their thumbs. The participants had not been exposed to any formal teaching of thermodynamics and the ambition was to establish if they could discover and conceptualise the thermal interaction between their thumbs and the objects in terms of heat flow with minimal guidance from the researchers. The main finding was that a cognitive conflict was induced in all three conditions, as to the anomaly between perceived ‘hotness’ and measured temperature, with a particular emotional undertone in the real-time IR condition. However, none of the participants conceptualised the situation in terms of a heat flow. From the perspective of establishing a baseline of the understanding of thermal phenomena prior to teaching, extensive quantities, e.g. ‘heat’ or ‘energy’, were largely missing in the participants’ communication. In conclusion, although an unguided discovery or inquiry-based approach induced a cognitive conflict, it was not sufficient for adjusting the students’ conceptual ecologies with respect to the age group studied here. Future research will exploit the promise of the cognitive conflict observed in this study by developing a more guided approach to teaching thermal phenomena that also takes full advantage of the enhanced vision offered by the thermal camera technology."

If you happen to be at WCPE 2012, drop by his poster: Session - 1.04, Date & Time: 7/3/2012 / 13:00 - 14:00, Room: D406 (3rd Floor).

If you don't know what thermal visualization is, visit our InfraredTube website.

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