Some students think that ‘at rest’ is a natural state in which no forces are involved
Resources to Address This
Stationary objects (11-14)
This resource outlines a simple activity that investigates the balancing forces acting on a stationary object.View Resource
Equilibrium - a question of balance (5-11 and 11-14)
This resource gives an accessible explanation of balanced forces acting on an object.View Resource
Force equals motion: no motion equals no force (11-14)
Stationary objects that appear to be affected by no force might have several forces acting on them which all add to zero.View Resource
- Tao, P. K. and Gunstone, R. F. () The Process of Conceptual Change in Force and Motion during Computer-Supported Physics Instruction, Journal of Research in Science Teaching: The Official Journal of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching, 36, (7) 859-882.
It is common for students to confuse the concepts of force and motion, leading to ideas such as a constant resultant force will cause movement at a constant speed or that a motionless object cannot have a force acting on it. This research shows that analysing a wide range of scenarios is required to effectively reduce student misconceptions and that care must be taken when moving between contexts otherwise students may quickly revert to their prior beliefs.
- Clement, J. () Students' alternative conceptions in mechanics: a coherent system of preconceptions? In H. Helm, and J. D. Novak (Eds.), Proceedings of the International Seminar: Misconceptions in Science and Mathematics Cornell University Ithaca, NY, 310-315.
This study highlighted common ideas among students, including the ideas that a force can be used up; a force inside a moving object is what keeps it going and if there is motion, there must be a force in the direction of motion. They suggest teachers develop metaphors which organise intuitions the student already has.
- Clement, J. () Using Bridging Analogies and Anchoring Intuitions to Deal with Students' Preconception in Physics Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 30, (10) 1241-1257
This study aimed to measure the effect of using 'bridging' analogies (analogies with intermediate examples) to address the preconceptions of students (aged 15-18). The sample consisted of ~200 pupils across multiple schools, data was collected using pre- and post-intervention tests, and results were analysed using a t-test.
- Séré, M. G. () A study of some frameworks used by pupils aged 11 to 13 years in the interpretation of air pressure European Journal of Science Education 4 (3) 299-309.
This study recorded all the lessons on the topic of air or gases that a group of 24 pupils had over a period of two years (10-12 years old).
- Lythott, J. () "Aristotelian" was given as the answer, but what was the question? In H. Helm and J. D. Novak (Eds.), Proceedings of the International Seminar: Misonceptions in Science and Mathematics Cornell University Ithaca, NY, 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."
- Minstrell, J. () Explaining the "At Rest" Condition of an Object. The Physics Teacher, 20 (1) 10-14.
This study investigated students' (14-18) explanations for stationary objects in an affluent Seattle suburb. Students drew diagrams of the forces involved in various scenarios, such as books at rest on a table, multiple books held by hand, a book hanging from a spring and a book on a table that is either stationary or depressing. The study recorded student discussions, homework and pre- and post-instruction tests.
- Osborne, R. () "Building on Children's Intuitive Ideas" in R. Osborne & P. Freyberg (Eds.), Learning in Science Heinemann Auckland, 41-51.
- Ogborn, J. () Understanding students' understandings: An example from dynamics International Journal of Science Education 7 (2) 141-150.