Many younger pupils can use the word 'force' (to mean a push or a pull) and understand that a force is needed to get a stationary object moving.

Forces and Motion

Misconception RESEARCH REVIEW

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

  • Let's talk forces (5-11 and 11-14)

    Source -SPT/ Mf01PN04

    This resource will help you discuss the term 'force' with your class.

    View Resource

References

The following studies have documented this misconception:

  • Watts, D. M. () A study of schoolchildren's alternative frameworks of the concept of force. International Journal of Science Education, 5 (2),

    217-230.

    This study used an interview approach to identify the conceptions of force of 12 students aged 11-17. Students were drawn from a range of schools in the Greater London area, from both junior science classes and advanced-level physics classes.
    Review sheet

  • Bliss, J.; Ogborn, J. and Whitelock, D. () Secondary school pupils' commonsense theories of motion. International Journal of Science Education, 11 (3),

    263-272.

    This study aimed to expose and empirically test the 'commonsense theory of motion' developed by Jon Ogborn in a sample of 29 students aged 11-18 from two English comprehensive schools. Participants understanding of motion was tested by asking them to describe and explain a sequence of 'comics' depicting physical situations.
    Review sheet

  • Lythott, J. () "'Aristotelian' was given as the answer, but what was the question?" in Helm, H. and Novak, J. D. (eds), Proceedings of the International Seminar: Misonceptions in Science and Mathematics. Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.

    257-265.

    The self-proclaimed purpose of this paper is "to raise questions concerning the advisability of the continued use of such adjectives, specifically "Aristotelian", without a concerted effort to understand whether or not it is an appropriate label for what it purports to describe."
    Review sheet

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