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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Children’s beliefs about forces in equilibrium Aguirre, Jose M.


Clinical interviews to explore children's beliefs about the concept of force were carried out with 32 children (18 boys, 14 girls), whose ages ranged from 6 to 14 years. Three tasks were used to investigate their beliefs about the action of a force, action and reaction, equilibrium of forces, and composition of forces. A conceptual profile was constructed on the aspects of force covered in the tasks. This conceptual profile was then used to categorize the children's beliefs which were uncovered in the interviews. It was found that the interview methodology was a feasible approach for an exploratory and descriptive study of students' beliefs about a particular concept and that the children in the sample had a set of typical a priori beliefs about force which they used to account for the different experimental situations. This set of beliefs was subsequently categorized in three levels of abstraction to bring to light the possible patterns of these beliefs. The children's ideas found in the study and the categorization of these into levels of abstraction could be useful for the curriculum developer and particularly for the teacher in planning teaching strategies.

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