Many students have difficulty predicting the direction of the force in electromagnetism

Electricity and Magnetism


For example, by a magnetic pole near a wire or coil, by a current-carrying wire in a magnetic field, or by an electrically-charged object moving in a magnetic field.

Resources to Address This

  • The Force on a Conductor in a Magnetic Field (16-19)

    Source - TAP/ Fields/ Electromagnetism/ Episode 412 ...

    This resource, aimed at A-Level classes, describes a series of demonstrations, class discussions, and practice questions on the force exerted on a moving charge.

    View Resource
  • The Force on a Moving Charge (16-19)

    Source - TAP/ Fields/ Electromagnetism/ Episode 413 ...

    Here you can extend the idea of a magnetic force on a current to consider moving charges.

    View Resource
  • Catapult magnetic field (11-16)

    Source - Practical physics/ Electromagnetism/ Forces on moving charges/ ...

    A spectacular demonstration showing how magnetic fields interact to produce forces on wires.

    View Resource


The following studies have documented this student thinking:

  • Maloney, D. P.; O'Kuma, T. L.; Hieggelke, C. J. and Van Heuvelen, A. () Surveying students' conceptual knowledge of electricity and magnetism. American Journal of Physics, 69 (S1),


    Review sheet

  • Karal, I. S.; Alev, N. and Baskan, Z. () Student teachers’ Subject Matter Knowledge (SMK) on electric current and magnetic field. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 2 (2),


    Review sheet

  • Onorato, P. and De Ambrosis, A. () Laboratory and Multimedia In Science Teaching: Experiments About Magnetic Force. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 116,


    Review sheet

  • Fatmaryanti, S. D. () Student representation of magnetic field concepts in learning by guided inquiry Journal of Physics: Conference Series, 795 (1),


    Review sheet

  • Sağlam, M. and Millar, R. () Upper High School Students’ Understanding of Electromagnetism. International Journal of Science Education, 28 (5),


    Review sheet

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