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ERIC Number: EJ1111958
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015-Dec
Pages: 10
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-1449-6313
Probing Year 11 Physics Students' Understandings of Gravitation
Moore, Simon; Dawson, Vaille
Teaching Science, v61 n4 p46-55 Dec 2015
Science education involves students learning explanations of natural phenomena which are neither obvious nor intuitive. Generally, they have been arrived at and refined by years of dedicated inquiry on the part of large scientific communities. At the same time, these phenomena often concern the objects of everyday experience regarding which students will inevitably form conceptions. It is not surprising then, that student alternative conceptions abound in science education (Vosniadou and Ioannides, 1998). Conceptions regarding gravitation are a case in point: from birth, each person has an almost continuous experience of gravitation at the Earth's surface, and a diversity of phenomena related to gravitation impinge on the life of a young child--from learning to stand and dropping objects off a highchair, to marvelling at the flight of birds and aeroplanes and wondering which objects will sink in the bath. An equally diverse range of phenomena confront older children and adults as they weigh and balance objects, notice that columns allow buildings to stand up, and see reports of satellites and spacecraft orbiting the Earth. In Western Australia, formal exposure to the scientific conception of gravitation begins early in primary school and continues until Year 10 (and beyond for students choosing to study physics in upper secondary school) (ACARA, 2015). The aim of this study was to examine how a science teacher used a simple questionnaire to investigate his Year 11 physics students' alternative conceptions about gravitation prior to formal instruction about the topic. The findings have implications for teachers of physics.
Australian Science Teachers Association. P.O. Box 334, Deakin West, ACT 2600, Australia. Tel: +61-02-6282-9377; Fax: +61-02-6282-9477; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research; Tests/Questionnaires
Education Level: Secondary Education; High Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Australia
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A