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Physical Review Special Topics - Physics Education Research
written by David T. Brookes and Eugenia Etkina
We introduce a linguistic framework through which one can interpret systematically students' understanding of and reasoning about force and motion. Some researchers have suggested that students have robust misconceptions or alternative frameworks grounded in everyday experience. Others have pointed out the inconsistency of students' responses and presented a phenomenological explanation for what is observed, namely, knowledge in pieces. We wish to present a view that builds on and unifies aspects of this prior research. Our argument is that many students' difficulties with force and motion are primarily due to a combination of linguistic and ontological difficulties. It is possible that students are primarily engaged in trying to define and categorize the meaning of the term "force" as spoken about by physicists. We found that this process of negotiation of meaning is remarkably similar to that engaged in by physicists in history. In this paper we will describe a study of the historical record that reveals an analogous process of meaning negotiation, spanning multiple centuries. Using methods from cognitive linguistics and systemic functional grammar, we will present an analysis of the force and motion literature, focusing on prior studies with interview data. We will then discuss the implications of our findings for physics instruction.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Education - Basic Research
- Cognition
= Cognitive Conflict
- Communication
= Language
- Problem Solving
= Expert-Novice Comparisons
General Physics
- Physics Education Research
- Lower Undergraduate
- Graduate/Professional
- Reference Material
= Research study
PER-Central Type Intended Users Ratings
- PER Literature
- Researchers
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© 2009 American Physical Society
Alternative Conceptions, Linguistics, Ontology, Ontology, Phenomenology
Record Creator:
Metadata instance created February 16, 2010 by Lyle Barbato
Record Updated:
December 16, 2021 by Caroline Hall
Last Update
when Cataloged:
June 25, 2009
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Record Link
AIP Format
D. Brookes and E. Etkina, , Phys. Rev. ST Phys. Educ. Res. 5 (1), 010110 (2009), WWW Document, (https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevSTPER.5.010110).
D. Brookes and E. Etkina, "Force," ontology, and language, Phys. Rev. ST Phys. Educ. Res. 5 (1), 010110 (2009), <https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevSTPER.5.010110>.
APA Format
Brookes, D., & Etkina, E. (2009, June 25). "Force," ontology, and language. Phys. Rev. ST Phys. Educ. Res., 5(1), 010110. Retrieved May 30, 2024, from https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevSTPER.5.010110
Chicago Format
Brookes, David T., and Eugenia Etkina. ""Force," ontology, and language." Phys. Rev. ST Phys. Educ. Res. 5, no. 1, (June 25, 2009): 010110, https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevSTPER.5.010110 (accessed 30 May 2024).
MLA Format
Brookes, David T., and Eugenia Etkina. ""Force," ontology, and language." Phys. Rev. ST Phys. Educ. Res. 5.1 (2009): 010110. 30 May 2024 <https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevSTPER.5.010110>.
BibTeX Export Format
@article{ Author = "David T. Brookes and Eugenia Etkina", Title = {"Force," ontology, and language}, Journal = {Phys. Rev. ST Phys. Educ. Res.}, Volume = {5}, Number = {1}, Pages = {010110}, Month = {June}, Year = {2009} }
Refer Export Format

%A David T. Brookes %A Eugenia Etkina %T "Force," ontology, and language %J Phys. Rev. ST Phys. Educ. Res. %V 5 %N 1 %D June 25, 2009 %P 010110 %U https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevSTPER.5.010110 %O text/html

EndNote Export Format

%0 Journal Article %A Brookes, David T. %A Etkina, Eugenia %D June 25, 2009 %T "Force," ontology, and language %J Phys. Rev. ST Phys. Educ. Res. %V 5 %N 1 %P 010110 %8 June 25, 2009 %U https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevSTPER.5.010110

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