This paper explores modes of instruction for effective student learning and factors that affect student perceptions of information from various sources encountered in undergraduate fluid mechanics. This paper addresses two questions: (i) What source of information do students rely on and have greater confidence in, (ii) What modes of instruction lead to greater understanding of material. These research questions were addressed by considering the conceptual topic of drag on a sphere. In this study, thirty students compared results from experimental lab measurements, CFD (ANSYS-CFX) simulations, and textbook data for drag acting on a sphere. Other concepts covered in the course were done so via lecture and/or lab, but were not examined using CFD. To address the first question, students completed a survey at the end of the experimental portion of lab and a second survey at the end of the CFD portion of lab. To address the second question, student responses to specific final exam questions were analyzed. Our data indicate that students have greater reliance on materials presented via lecture and in the course textbook, than data that originates via hands-on learning methods such as experimental data, and CFD simulations. The results that address the second question indicate that even though there is greater variation in student learning outcome scores, a variety of modes of instruction lead to greater understanding of a topic, even accounting for biases in perceived data authority of various sources of data.

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