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Using Reverse Engineering to Enhance Ninth-Grade Students’ Understanding of Thermal Expansion

Abstract

Given that many models of design-based learning in science education are grounded in forward engineering, in which students are challenged to use the engineering design process to achieve unknown solutions to engineering problems, this study aims to examine the potential of using reverse engineering, as an alternative approach to design-based learning, to facilitate students’ understanding of scientific concepts. Two classes of ninth-grade students, one with 21 students and the other with 24 students, participated in this study by engaging in reverse engineering activities where they dissected and investigated how a bimetal thermostat functions. The primary instrument is a conceptual test, comprising 12 multiple-choice questions about thermal expansion, which was completed by the students before and after the reverse engineering activities. A paired-samples t-test was used to analyse the data. Discourse analysis of students’ verbal interactions within small groups was also used to illustrate their learning process. The results indicate that both classes exhibited significant improvements in their understanding of thermal expansion, to a large or medium extent. Thus, it is recommended that reverse engineering can be used as a pedagogical approach to facilitating students’ learning of scientific concepts.

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Funding

This study was financially supported by Thailand Science Research and Innovation (previously known as the Thailand Research Fund) under the code RSA6180010.

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Correspondence to Luecha Ladachart.

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All procedures performed in this study involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical principles approved by the University of Phayao’s Human Ethics Committee under the number 2/048/62.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individuals participants included in the study.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Ladachart, L., Cholsin, J., Kwanpet, S. et al. Using Reverse Engineering to Enhance Ninth-Grade Students’ Understanding of Thermal Expansion. J Sci Educ Technol (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10956-021-09940-1

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Keywords

  • Engineering design process
  • Reversing engineering
  • STEM education
  • Thermal expansion