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Common Misconceptions In Gravity English Language Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Language
Wordcount: 2300 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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There have been a large number of studies that reported students’ misconceptions of various science topics. Many studies conducted involved secondary students. Studies in physics areas were also included. Physics teaching relies heavily on the understanding and application of the physical laws and concepts (Zawaji A.Ghani, 2001). Many students believed that physics is a tough and hard to score due to too many concept need to remember and understand.

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The place of concepts used in science lessons is important to teach those lessons effectively and efficiently due to abstract nature of the concepts involved in the science lessons (Osborne & Freyberg, 1985). It has been pointed out that the concepts are the abstract ideas taking place in people’s minds and decrease the complexity of the everyday life. They also help to learn objects and events existed around us and in the world. According to the constructivism, a learner integrates new ideas into previous ones and thus she/he relates the previous ideas to the new ones during her/his learning (Çepni, 2007).

Physics education research has blossomed in the past several years. This research comes in many varieties: theories of learning, investigation of student concepts and of student attitudes toward physics, factors influencing physics learning, instructional methods, and so on. Research into concepts held by students regarding many topics in physics is extensive. Electrostatics, optics, and electric current are a few examples of such topics. However, there is a surprising lack of research on student concepts of gravity, especially concerning students at the college level.

Many students have difficulties, not only in understanding concepts, sometimes have misconceptions about the process of existence of gravity. This is important to determine their misconception and the sources of the problem occur, this is because by determining the students’ misconceptions on gravity topics will contribute to their success in other physics topics.

1.2 Statement of research problem.

Gravity is the fundamental force of attraction that all objects with mass have for each other. The topic of gravity is very conceptual and full of complexness. Thus, students always encountered problems regarding this topic. Student misconceptions and “errors” exhibited in this topic are many and varied. So, this study is conducted to investigate students’ common misconception regarding this topic.

1.3 Research objectives

Purpose of this study is to study about students misconceptions on gravity. This study is conducted to fulfill the following objectives:

To investigate students common misconceptions in gravity.

To identify the sources of their misconceptions in gravity.

1.4 Research questions.

This study will attempt to answer the following questions.

What are students’ common misconceptions in gravity?

What are the likely sources of the students’ misconceptions in gravity?

1.5 Significant of the study.

This is research will beneficial to several parties such as teachers and students. The result of the study will help teachers to know ability of the students, other than know their students common misconceptions in gravity and find the effective way to overcome these problems.

For students, it will be beneficial in a way they know their sources of problem in learning gravity topic. The result of this study will help them to overcome the problem and make them easier in learning process.

1.6 Limitation of the study.

Since there are some factors that cannot be avoided, this research will be conducted according to certain limitations. Only one school involve due to time constraint. Only 75 students involve since the budget is not enough for large sample.

1.7 Scope of study

This study will only involve students taking Physics as their elective subject in the school. Objectives of this study are to identify students’ common misconception in gravity.

1.8 Operational definition

1. Gravity

Gravity is the force of attraction by which terrestrial bodies tend to fall toward the center of the earth. Gravity is the force of the universe and is considered a noncontact force. It is what holds the planets in orbit as well as the very universe itself. It is what keeps us from floating off into space and plays a crucial role in almost every nature process from the ocean tides to the body’s circulatory system.


2.1 Scientific Conception

We focus on the misconception that students facing regarding gravity. The students were used to the ideas that when two objects were thrown, the object that will reach the ground first must have the bigger mass compared to the other object until other factors that need to be considered were ignored. They didn’t expose to the ideas that object when it was thrown, several factors must be considered. Air resistance it slows the downward acceleration of a falling object, acts in the opposite direction as the movement of a falling object, it is a force that counteracts gravity, depends on other than mass is size of the object, shape of the object and the height the object was thrown. Gravity causes a falling object to accelerate toward the ground, acts in the same direction as the movement of a falling object, counteracts air resistance, acts on all objects equally. Gravity is a one of the fundamental force. Gravitational force is the force that gives weight to objects with mass and causes them to fall to the ground when dropped.

In Common sense concepts about belief (Ibrahim Abou Halloun and David Hestenes), inserted CS analog of Newton’s second law that motion is started by gravity (an intrinsic tendency to fall down), motion is sustained by continuous action of an applied force of gravity, motion may be opposed by intrinsic resistance (mass or weight of object) and resistance of a medium surrounding the object (air resistance).

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Earth rotates at its own axis. The origin of the formation of universe such as the formation of big bang. At the end of the phase atoms formed. Followed by molecules, solids, and liquid. All available kinetic energy and from the gravitational pull tend to form large masses. As a result of balancing all the energy, makes the Earth revolves on its own axis. Thus, the rotation does not cause gravity.

2.2 Types of misconceptions

The journal of Students’ Misunderstanding of Galileo’s Experiment on the Leaning Tower of Pisa by Yun-Ju Chiu and Feng-Yi Chen from the Chang Gung University (Taiwan), stated that some students even misunderstood that the two objects of different weight would fall at the different time. Textbooks usually illustrate that the different weights will fall together by using the examples of a coin and a feather in a vacuum. Some of the students thought that the metal ball and cotton fell to the ground at the same time. Most students figured that a 1kg metal ball and cotton of the same weight would strike the ground at different time. Although the forces of gravity applied to the two objects are different, the change of the velocity, namely acceleration is the same. Therefore, the two objects will fall down together. According to their research, it is a common misconception for most students that heavier objects fall more quickly than the lighter ones.

According to Berg & Brower, 1991 more than half of 9th grade students believed that there is not gravity in the space and thus there is not gravity on the moon because it does not have air. In another study held by Jane R. Pablico 2010, when the students were give the question about if someone is standing on the moon, is there any gravity? There are 129 upon 288 students answered there is no gravity. The majority of the students are answering wrong. When they were asked about why they choose the answer. Most of the reasons are no gravity on moon, no gravity in outer space, man floats on moon, only earth has gravity, and that’s what I learned.

Watts and Zylbersztajn surveyed a set of 125 British 14-year-old students regarding their concepts of force. Of particular interest is a question in which an astronaut stands on the moon’s surface and releases a spanner from one hand. When asked to tell what would happen, nearly 80% of the students replied that the spanner would remain in space or float away. Explanations commonly referred to the moon having no gravity or no atmosphere, and thus concluding that no force would be exerted on the spanner.

Piburn (1988) talked about the number of misconceptions that college students have about gravity, the distance from the sun, the sun’s affect, the rotation or lack of it, and the position or size of the planet. Many of the students believed that gravity is caused by earth rotation. The earth rotates on its own axis. The origin of the formation of universe such as the formation of big bang. At the end of the phase atoms formed. Followed by molecules, solids, and liquid. All available kinetic energy and from the gravitational pull tend to form large masses. As a result of balancing all the energy, makes the Earth revolves on its own axis. Thus, the rotation does not cause gravity.

In addition, some students believe the force of gravity needs air to act as a conducting medium. (Bar, Zinn, & Rubin, 1997). Students also have misconception about where the gravity starts and end. According to Chandler (1991), the most common mistake is that children think that when the Earth’s atmosphere ends, so does gravity.

2.3 Sources of misconception

From M. Sabri & Zeynep (2010) students were generally unable to differentiate the concept of gravitational force from the concept of gravitational acceleration, and they confused the concept of mass with concept of weight. The students experienced misconception due to incomplete knowledge presented from the teachers during teaching process. The students memorizing knowledge but not internalized in terms of making sense of it whether the concept that they are understand is logic or not. Moreover, abstract nature of the concept of gravity and finally the lack of learning by doing and learning by experiencing were thought to be the sources of those misconceptions (M. Sabri & Zeynep, 2010).

Some student thought that gravity is caused by Earth’s rotation because the students might any knowledge gained from the television shows. In the television shows, they saw about the idea of spinning a space station to make artificial gravity, so they figure the Earth is doing the same thing. Besides that, it is probably because they have heard about how things supposedly ‘float’ in space, and they imagine that this requires there to be no gravity at all, despite the fact that it is really due to the spacecraft and the astronauts inside it both accelerating together.

Besides that, the students may have gained those misconceptions by analyzing daily events and this might be the reason why science teachers have similar misconceptions about gravity (Kruger & Summers, 1990). Students have a remedial sense of gravity, drawing from their own experiential viewpoint.


3.0 Introduction

The purpose of this study is to investigate students’ misconceptions in gravity. The methodology that will be carried out in this study is qualitative in nature. The qualitative data provided a sense how the students responded to a given task which are paper and pencil test. This will provide the researcher with general information about students’ misconceptions in gravity. The researcher will used this method because it is more suitable to analyze students’ misconceptions.

3.1 Research design.

The methodology that the researcher will be utilizing in this research is the qualitative designs, which are distribution of test paper (paper and pencil test). The purpose of the test is to obtain a more complete students understanding and localize the misconceptions. Then data will be analyzed.

3.2 Method of data collection

Paper and pencil test.

The test will be administered to the students to assess their misconceptions. Students need to answer the questions given. Other than answer, they need to justify the answers to get their exact understanding about the topic.

3.3 Population and Sampling

This study consists of one main group of subject which is physics students and desire sample is form four science students. They will be seat for test paper.

3.4 Data collection process.

The data will be collected at school; the researcher needs to get the consent from the school. After gaining the permission, the researcher will administer the test to the selected students. Further, the researcher will ask cooperation from teachers and the students. Each test paper will attach with a letter that clearly explain the purpose of the study. The students will be “inform about the importance of completing the test, the confidentiality of their responses and the data would only be utilized for the purpose of this study” (Ali Khamis, 2002)

Data Analysis.

Data obtained will be analyses, synthesizes and reducing into a coherent descriptive. The data obtained will be transcribed into written form for closer study. After that the data will be analyses and categories based on research questions.


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