The main purpose of this study was to identify alternative conceptions held by high school learners concerning mechanics, as one of the major topics in South Africa’s NCS. The research sample comprised 140 grade 12 students from four high schools. A researcher-designed test was used to collect the required data. Although quantitative data were collected, the main thrust of data analysis for this paper was on the qualitative data generated. The results showed that the students mainly held eight alternative conceptions related to mechanics. These were that (a) the velocity and acceleration of a projectile increase as the projectile goes up; (b) the weight, or mass, of an object has an effect on the magnitude of the force it exerts; (c) force is needed to keep an object moving at all times, (d) only active agents exert force; (e) objects that are not moving do not exert force; (f) action-reaction forces occur at different times.; (g) at the highest point, the acceleration of a projectile is zero; and (h) motion implies active force. These findings are discussed, and recommendations made.
|Keywords:||Alternative Conceptions, High School Students, Physics, Mechanics, South Africa|
Deputy Principal, Curriculum and Physical Science Teacher at Old Mill High School.h, As an employee: Department of Education in KwaZulu-natal Province in South Africa., , As PhD student: Department of mathematics, Science and Technology Education, Faculty of Education, University of Zululand, South Africa., University of Zululand, Empangeni, RSA, South Africa
Professor of Science Education, Mathematics, Science and Technology, Education Department, University of Zululand, Richards Bay, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa