Many students cannot correctly identify the forces acting on an object that has been set in motion but is slowing down

Forces and Motion


Resources to Address This

  • Parachute games (11-14)

    This resource outlines an activity where an object reaches a final constant speed (or terminal speed) and the discussions you might have with your class.

    View Resource
  • Running out of driving force (11-14)

    The driving force is only acting when there is contact - friction or drag are the forces affecting the motion once there is no driving force.

    View Resource
  • Episode 208: Preparation for drag forces (16-19)

    Consolidating understanding of forces acting on a falling object.

    View Resource


The following studies have documented this misconception:

  • White, B. Y. () Sources of Difficulty in Understanding Newtonian Dynamics. Cognitive Science, 7 (1), 41-65.

    This US study examined the responses of 40 students (mean age 16.4) from an upper-middle-class suburb to a series of questions on Newtonian dynamics. Solutions and any comments made during the questions were recorded, and interviews and diagrams were drawn.

  • Hewson, P. W. () Epistemological commitments in the learning of science: Examples from dynamics. The European Journal of Science Education, 7 (2), 163-172.

    This South African study aimed to explore the role played by the epistemological commitments which a student holds in determining whether he or she accepts or rejects an argument.

  • Clement, J. () Students' preconceptions in introductory mechanics. American Journal of Physics, 50 (1), 66-71.

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