Instructional strategies to promote conceptual change about force and motion: A review of the literature

Marina Tomara, Vassilis Tselfes, Dimitris Gouscos


During the last four decades, the results of a great deal of research have indicated that, prior to any formal instruction in physics, students hold scientifically incorrect ideas about physics concepts in general, and about the force and motion concepts in particular, the latter being considered central in science teaching. To these days, students’ conceptual difficulties in mechanics have been well documented and a considerable body of research literature in science education has been formed.
In the present study we first review briefly most commonly encountered students’ alternative conceptions and mental barriers in school mechanics. Subsequently, we present teaching approaches that attempt to confront the aforementioned difficulties in students’ thinking. Ultimately, with respect to the studies presented, we attempt to highlight potentially effective characteristics of learning environments and strategies suitable for the promotion of conceptual change in school mechanics.


alternative conceptions, force and motion, mechanics, conceptual change

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