Some students find it much easier to conceptualise the motion of a transverse wave compared to a longitudinal one
The following worksheets may help to identify whether students hold this particular misconception.
For more information, see the University of York BEST website.
Resources to Address This
Waves with trolleys (11-16)
Ref - Practical Physics; Waves; Mechanical waves and superposition;
Lines of dynamics trolleys connected by springs make good models for both longitudinal and transverse waves.View Resource
Episode 309: Generating waves (16-19)
Ref - TAP; Teaching vibrations and waves;
This episode introduces the idea that vibrations can give rise to disturbances travelling outwards, i.e. to progressive waves. It shows some of the basic properties of waves. Springs are used to illustrate both transverse and longitudinal waves.View Resource
The following studies have documented this misconception:’
- Fazio, C., Guastella, I., Sperandeo-Mineo, R.M. and Tarantino, G. () Measuring longitudinal wave speed in solids: two methods and a half, European Journal of Physics, 27,
- Houle, M.E. and Barnett, G.M. () Students’ Conceptions of Sound Waves Resulting from the Enactment of a New Technology-Enhanced Inquiry-Based Curriculum on Urban Bird Communication, Journal of Science Education Technology, 17,