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Science Education International, v19 n4 p405-414 Dec 2008

The study investigated tenth-, eleventh-, and twelfth-grade students' alternative ideas relating to the motion of a body travelling in the field of gravity with an initial horizontal velocity. The sample of the study consisted of 40 tenth-grade students, and 33 and 40 eleventh-grade students that attended different sections of upper secondary school where the time devoted to physics teaching is quite diverse. Open-ended questions related to three different problems were used. The first problem concerned the motion of a metallic ball after reaching the edge of a horizontal surface on which it was moving with constant velocity. The second problem concerned the motion of a ball, which was held in the hands of a runner who was moving on a horizontal surface with constant velocity, after the ball was released by the runner. The third problem concerned the motion of a body that was thrown upwards from a vehicle that was moving horizontally with constant velocity. Students' answers were analyzed qualitatively and were grouped into different categories based on their main conceptual characteristics. Students' conceptions were similar to the pre-Newtonian theories of motion, resembling to Aristotle's ideas about motion and aspects of the theory of impetus, developed by Buridan during Middle Ages. Comparison of students' answers to the three similar problems indicated students' difficulties to transfer the same conceptual framework from one problem to the other. Differences also existed among the three Groups of students that differed in terms of their educational experiences. Based on the results, suggestions related to curriculum revisions and constructivistic teaching interventions are put forward. (Contains 3 figures and 3 tables.)

Descriptors: Physics, Motion, Secondary School Students, Science Instruction, Secondary School Science, Scientific Principles, Scientific Concepts, Concept Formation, Teaching Methods, Constructivism (Learning), Urban Schools

International Council of Associations for Science Education. Dokuz Eylul University Faculty of Education, Buca, Izmir 35150, Turkey. Tel: +90-532-4267927; Fax: +90-232-4204895; Web site:

Autor: Apostolides, Themos; Valanides, Nikos


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