Korean University Students' Understanding of Idealization in Mechanics and Its Implications for Physics Education

  • Song, Jin-Woong (Seoul National University, Chonnam National University) ;
  • Park, Jong-Won (Seoul National University, Chonnam National University)
  • Published : 2001.12.30


This study investigated university students' (majoring physics education) understanding of some aspects of idealization frequently used in teaching and learning of physics, especially of mechanics. A total of 143 students were given a Questionnaire of six questions requiring written responses. Out of the six questions, the first three were concerned with basic idealized concepts, the next two with the making of the assumptions of ideal conditions for given problem settings, and the last with the identification of the idealization used in the given solution of a problem. Students' written responses were grouped into patterns and the relative frequencies of the patterns were counted. It was found that the students had limited understanding of the idealization and their ideas were diverse and frequently incorrect. The implications of the findings are discussed in relation to the roles of idealization in physics education.


Korea;university student;idealization;mechanics;assumption