Augmenting the Classical Change Model to Promote Conceptual Learning in Core Engineering Courses


  • Michael Prince Bucknell University
  • Milo Koretsky Oregon State University
  • Brian Self California Polytechnic University
  • Margot Vigeant Bucknell University


Cognitive conflict arises when students’ expectation about a physical situation, such as the relative temperatures of metal and cloth, are not experimentally verified. The paper reviews this approach as a tool for promoting conceptual learning in undergraduate engineering courses, through three case studies. These cases demonstrate that cognitive conflict can be a successful strategy for engineering instructors to support students’ conceptual learning in engineering as a first step to create a teachable moment.  

Author Biographies

Michael Prince, Bucknell University

Michael Prince is a Professor of Chemical Engineering at Bucknell University. His research interests include assessment and repair of persistent student misconceptions, examining factors that promote students’ self-regulated learning competencies and exploring how to increase the diffusion of educational research into educational practice. Dr. Prince received his B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from U.C. Berkeley.

Milo Koretsky, Oregon State University

Milo Koretsky is a Professor of Chemical Engineering at Oregon State University. He received his B.S. and M.S. degrees from UC San Diego and his Ph.D. from UC Berkeley, all in chemical engineering. His group works on integrating technology into effective educational practices that promote the use of higher-level cognitive and social skills in engineering problem solving and in promoting change towards motivating faculty to use evidence-based instructional practices. A particular focus is on what prevents students from being able to integrate and extend the knowledge developed in specific courses in the core curriculum to the more complex, authentic problems and projects they face in professional practice.

Brian Self, California Polytechnic University

Brian Self obtained his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Engineering Mechanics from Virginia Tech, and his Ph.D. in Bioengineering from the University of Utah. He worked in the Air Force Research Laboratories before teaching at the U.S. Air Force Academy for seven years. Brian has taught in the Mechanical Engineering Department at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo since 2006. During the 2011-2012 academic year he participated in a professor exchange, teaching at the Munich University of Applied Sciences. His engineering education interests include collaborating on the Dynamics Concept Inventory, developing model-eliciting activities in mechanical engineering courses, inquiry-based learning in mechanics, and design projects to help promote adapted physical activities.

Margot Vigeant, Bucknell University

Margot Vigeant is Rooke Professor of Chemical Engineering at Bucknell University. Margot’s broad research area is effective pedagogy in engineering, including approaches to conceptual learning, inquiry-based activities for thermodynamics and heat transfer, and entrepreneurially minded learning in engineering. She is also interested in “making” in engineering, using educational and online technology to broaden engagement and access. She teaches chemical engineering thermodynamics, applied food science and engineering, and capstone design. Margot completed her doctorate at the University of Virginia. She is an Apple Distinguished Educator and chair of the 2021 ASEE Chemical Engineering Summer School.