Secondary school pupils' commonsense theories of motion

Bliss, Joan; Ogborn, John and Whitelock, Denise (1989). Secondary school pupils' commonsense theories of motion. International Journal of Science Education, 11(3) pp. 261–272.



This research sets out to test a commonsense theory of motion derived from Hayes (1979) Naive Physics Manifesto. The theory hypothesizes that our knowledge about motion is tacit, presenting the methodology with the difficult task of eliciting such knowledge. Comics, being smaller and more amusing version of our world, provided excellent interview material since they provided a wide range of motion events. Thus on episodes in four comic strips, children between the ages of 11 and 18 were asked whether and why events about motion could or could not happen. Analysis of variance showed that there is no significant variation between subjects, nor between incidence of explanations and school year in two fundamental areas of the theory tested, as predicted by the theory. It was further predicted that certain episodes would be interpreted similarly by pupils and there is some evidence to show some patterns of this kind emerging.

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