Many pupils think that a compact object (such as a ball or a stone) falls at a constant speed which depends on how heavy it is.

Forces and Motion


Diagnostic Resources

The following worksheets may help to identify whether students hold this particular misconception.

For more information, see the University of York EPSE website.

Resources to Address This

  • Estimate of acceleration due to gravity using pulsed water drops (11-16)

    Source - Practical physics/ Force and motion/ acceleration due to gravity

    This experiment is one of the most delightful demonstrations in physics and well worth the effort of assembling the equipment.

    View Resource


The following studies have documented this misconception:

  • Gunstone, R. F. and White, R. T. () Understanding of Gravity. Science Education, 65 (3),


    This study presented a sample of first year physics undergraduates at Monash University, Australia, with eight physical situations. The students were asked to make predictions as to what would happen if a certain action was taken. The action was then taken, and the subjects were asked to explain any discrepancies between their prediction and the result.
    Review sheet

  • Halloun, I. A. and Hestenes, D. () Common sense concepts about motion. American Journal of Physics, 53 (11),


    This study surveyed and analysed the common sense beliefs on motion of a sample of 478 university physics students at Arizona State University using a multiple choice diagnostic test on the subject of mechanics. 22 students were randomly chosen for follow-up interviews. A taxonomy of common sense concepts which conflict with Newtonian theory was developed as a guide for instruction.
    Review sheet

  • Dilber, R.; Karaman, I. and Duzgun, B. () High school students' understanding of projectile motion concepts. Educational Research and Evaluation, 15 (3),


    This study analysed a sample of 82 high school students (36 boys and 46 girls) between the ages of 16 and 17 using a qualitative multiple choice test on projectile motion. The test was administered both prior to and after a 4-week instructional period. The study took place in the department of physics at Ataturk University, Erzurum, Turkey.
    Review sheet

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