A Modern Understanding the Origins of Students’ Difficulties to Operate with the Weight Concept

  • Igal Galili


The study outlines historical evolution of the weight concept in physics and the currently employed ways to present this concept in physics course in intermediate — high school and college. The twentieth century changes in scientific method, science itself, social environment and theory of learning might have a direct implication in considering the way to define the weight concept. The article presents two alternative definitions. To facilitate the appropriate considerations a research effort was undertaken to investigate high schoolcollege students’ pertinent knowledge. The study shows that even after the advanced instruction (provided only to a minority of population) students badly assimilate apparent and true weight concepts and construct alternative knowledge in this domain. Students’ confusion could be interpreted as an evidence of a mismatch between the mental image of weight, students possess, and the gravitational weight definition provided by most English language physics textbooks. The article nominates the aspects in favor of operational weight definition which may improve students’ success in learning physics as it is understood nowadays.


Contact Force Gravitational Force Free Fall Physics Teacher Advanced Instruction 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Igal Galili
    • 1
  1. 1.Science Teaching DepartmentThe Hebrew University of JerusalemJerusalemIsrael

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