Some students conflate magnetic and electrostatic effects

Electricity and Magnetism


For example, some students expect a stationary, electrically charged object to be affected by a magnet (or vice versa).

Resources to Address This

  • Forces in an electrostatic field  (11-16)

    Source - Practical physics/ Electric current and fields/ Electric fields/ ...

    A shuttling ping-pong ball serves as a model of ions moving in an electric field.This shows the difference with magnetic effects.

    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

  • Borges, A. T. and Gilbert, J. K. () Models of magnetism. International Journal of Science Education, 20 (3),


    Review sheet

  • Guisasola, J.; Almudi, J. M.; Ceberio, M. and Zubimendi, J. L. () Designing and evaluation research-based instructional sequences for introducing magnetic fields. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 7 (4),


    Review sheet

  • Guth, J. () An in-depth study of two individual students' understanding of electric and magnetic fields. Research in Science Education, 25 (4),


    Review sheet

  • Maloney, D. P. () Charged poles? Physics Education, 20 (6),


    Review sheet

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