Friday, December 6, 2013

HVACR Language

New students can easily be confused by HVACR techno-speak We have our fair share of acronyms in HVACR. Used properly; acronyms speed up communication by reducing long polysyllabic phrases to a few letters. For example, speakers would get a bit winded if they used the phrase “heating, ventilating, air conditioning, and refrigeration” repeatedly in a conversation. The abundance of industry specific acronyms and the use of more than one acronym for the same item can be truly bewildering to students. For example, one major valve manufacturer uses the acronym TEV to represent “Thermostatic Expansion Valve,” while another uses the acronym TXV for the same thing. They do not represent two different types of components, just two different ways to abbreviate the same words.

Try to avoid using acronyms when introducing new material. Teachers who have had years of experience with HVACR techno-speak often forget that the acronyms we casually throw around often have no meaning for our students. Take the following sentence for example: “The evaporator delta T is controlled by the TEV adjustment, the return air wb, and the CFM.” Now I believe that most any air conditioning instructor understands this sentence, but it is essentially unintelligible to many air conditioning students. It might as well be in Russian! Replacing the HVACR specific jargon with the wingdings font it looks like
“The evaporator deltaT is controlled by the TEV adjustment, the return air wb, and the CFM.”
THAT is what this sentence looks like to a new student!

In general it is a good idea to resist using an acronym for something until that item or process has been discussed. Otherwise, the acronym will appear to students to be a mysterious grouping of letters used by air conditioning shaman to communicate with each other. The acronyms and jargon become a secret language which they are not familiar with. I believe that acronym free language promotes better understanding.

An acronym should first be explained and defined before it is used. It is much easier to remember an acronym if you understand what the letters stand for. When using an acronym for the first time make sure and explicitly spell out what the letters represent, this will increase student’s understanding and retention of the term. It also helps for the students to have a good mental picture of the object or process being described. They are far more likely to remember what Delta T stands for if they have actually measured a temperature difference and you have discussed it in class. That way the abbreviation is not an esoteric piece of jargon attached to something they don’t understand, but a name for something they have done. In Fundamentals of HVACR, we always use the complete word or phrase before introducing an acronym. It helps to explain concepts plainly. After introducing the concept, we give the technical terminology that is used to refer to the concept. The students are more likely to remember the terminology if it is logically connected to something they understand.

1 comment:

  1. Super insight here Carter. maybe you can also address the needs for teaching what a packing gland does and how important it is to our trade to treat all packing glands properly before actually changing valve positions! Refrigerant access valves, Acetylene bottles and more all have packing glands.

    Nice Post, Sir!